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"ASSYNT, a parish in the county of Sutherland, Scotland, of 90 miles in circumference, lying on the coast of the Minch, between Loch Ardvar and Kyle Scow on the N., and Loch Enard on the S. It extends in length from the point of Storr, in the N.W., to Cromall, in the S.E., 36 miles; and in breadth, at the widest part, 18 miles. It is one of the wildest and most mountainous districts in Scotland, and has almost innumerable lochs. The loftiest mountain is Benmore, on the southern border of the parish. It has an elevation of 3,200 feet above the sea. Others are Cuniack, or Queenaig, north of Loch Assynt, a ridge terminating in a small peak by the lake; Snilven, or Sugar Loaf, to the south of Loch Inver, &c. The largest lake is Loch Assynt, occupying nearly the centre of the parish. It is a freshwater lake, containing abundance of trout, and extending in length nearly 7 miles, and in breadth about 1 mile. Camloch is the next largest lake, and lies in the southern, which is the highest, part of the parish. Close to it is Urgil loch; on the west coast, Inver loch; and scattered over the parish, especially the western half, a multitude of others too numerous to name. The coast is rugged and dangerous, with many indentations and small islands. There are several caves, both on the coast and inland. Limestone is abundant in the parish: in one place it appears in a huge abrupt ridge, nearly 200 feet high and extending for a mile and a half. Marble is quarried at Ichnadamph, and some slate spar is procured. Fishing is the chief occupation of the inhabitants, who live mostly near the coast. Sheep farming is also carried on extensively. The parish belonged in ancient times to the thanes of Sutherland, subsequently to the McLeods, and now to the Duke of Sutherland. The living is in the presbytery of Dornoch, of the value of £158, and in the patronage of the Duke of Sutherland. The church stands at the east end of Loch Assynt. There are also two Free churches. The people speak the Gaelic language almost universally. On the shore of Loch Assynt, near its eastern end, are the ruins of Ardvrack Castle, which is considered to have been the seat of the McLeods, and to have been built near the close of the 16th century. It was by a member of this family that the Marquis of Montrose, who took refuge in Assynt, was betrayed, in the reign of Charles I. On the coast at Clachtoll are some remains of a druidical temple. There is a building near the church, supposed to be part of an ancient place of worship. Lochinver is the principal village. The parish contains two post offices, one near the church, and the other at the village of Lochinver."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Assynt, Church of Scotland

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1851 - Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis

  • ASSYNT, a parish, in the county of Sutherland, 30 miles (N. W. by W.) from Dornoch; containing, with the former quoad sacra district of Stoer, and the village of Lochinver, 3178 inhabitants. This place is supposed to take its name from its irregular boundary line, the Gaelic term, as agus innle, signifying "out and in". It was once a forest of the ancient Thanes of Sutherland, one of whom gave it in vassalage to Mac-Kry- Cul, who held that part of the coast of Coigach afterwards called the village of Ullapool, as a reward for his having recovered a great number of cattle that had been carried off from the county of Sutherland by the Scandinavians, who had also burnt the great fir forests on this and the neighbouring coast. Mac-Kry-Cul's family being reduced by the disasters of war to one heir female, she was given in marriage to a younger son of McLeod, laird of Lewis, with the consent of the Thane of Sutherland, who made this parish over to the newly-married couple, with its superiority. After this event, there were fourteen successive lairds of the name of McLeod. About 1660, the parish and its superiority became the property of the Earl of Seaforth, from whom it passed to a younger son of his family, whose successors possessed it for three or four generations; and it was afterwards purchased by Lady Strathnaver, who presented it to her grandson, William, Earl of Sutherland, from whom it has descended to the present Duke of Sutherland. The extreme length of the parish is about thirty-six miles, and its greatest breadth eighteen; containing an area of 97,000 acres. It is situated in the north-west part of the county, and divided on the north from the parish of Eddrachillis, in the Reay country, by an arm of the sea called the Kyle: on the west it is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The coast, which is about thirty miles in extent, is bold, rocky, and dangerous, and has several extensive and interesting caves; but in some places there is a fine sandy bottom, with safe landing. Attached to the parish are numerous islands, some of which are merely bare rocks affording neither pasture nor shelter: the most considerable is Oldney, which is about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, and is used for the pasturage of sheep; the other islands are Crona, Soya, and Klett.

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