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"DURNESS, a parish in the county of Sutherland, Scotland, 13 miles N.W. of Grubmore. The parish extends along the sea-coast, between Whitenhead and Cape Wrath Light, including Strathmore and Far-out Head. The coast is extremely rocky, and off the shore are the Stags Rock and Nun Shoal. In the streams salmon abound, and in Loch Borley are red trout. In 1724 the districts of Tongue and Eddrachillis were detached from this parish. It is in the presbytery of Tongue, and synod of Sutherland and Caithness. The minister's stipend is £158, in the patronage of the crown. The village contains the parish church, two Free churches, and several schools. In the church is an old monument to McKay of Davock. A mile from the village there is a remarkable cavern, 100 feet wide, and, 180 to 300 feet in height, which repeats a curious echo. The Duke of Sutherland is the only landowner. Dozen, the Gaelic poet, was a native of this place."

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


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Durness, Church of Scotland

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1851 - Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis

  • DURNESS, a parish, in the county of Sutherland, 20 miles (N. W. by W.) from Tongue, and 76 (N. W.) from Golspie, containing 1109 inhabitants. This parish probably derives its name, which is of doubtful origin, from Durin, the principal township, and ness, a headland or promontory. It anciently comprised the whole of the lands called " Lord Reay's Country", a district 800 square miles in extent, from which, since the year 1724, have been separated the parishes of Tongue on the east, and Eddrachillis on the south-west. The parish is bounded on the north by the North Sea, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and is about twenty-five miles in length and twelve in average breadth, comprising, with its several inlets, an area of 300 square miles, of which scarcely one-hundredth part is under cultivation. Its surface, which is boldly diversified, and abounds with magnificent scenery, is naturally divided into three mountainous districts, separated from each other by spacious inlets from the North Sea. Of these the district of Parf, extending from the Atlantic Ocean on the west to the Kyle of Durness, occupies an area of more than seventy square miles; the district of Durness, reaching from the Kyle to the western shore of Loch Eriboll, has an area of about eighty square miles; and the district of Westmoin, extending from the eastern shore of Loch Eriboll to the morass east of Loch Hope, contains nearly 100 square miles. The principal Mountains in the parish are, Scribhisbheinn, Faisbheinn, Fairemheall, Creigriabhach, and Bendearg, all in the Parf district, varying in height from 1500 to 2500 feet Ceannabinn, Meallmeadhonach, Cranstackie, and Ben-Spionnadh, in the Durness district, of which Ben-Spionnadh has an elevation of 2566 feet; and Ben-Hope, 3150 feet in height, in the district of Westmoin, which contains also several ranges of lofty and precipitous hills. The valleys are, Strath-Dinard, extending from the Kyle of Durness along the river Grudy for about fourteen miles; Strath-Beg, a narrow fertile vale about two miles in length; and Strathmore, extending from the north base of Ben-Hope, for about six miles, along the banks of the river to which it gives name.

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