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"KILDONAN, a parish in county Sutherland, Scotland, containing the post village of Helmsdale. It is about 25 miles long, and its extreme breadth is 16. The parish is bounded by the county of Caithness, the ocean, and the parishes of Clyne, Loth, Farr, and Reay. The surface is generally mountainous. The best arable land is found in the Strath of Kildonan and the valley of the river Helmsdale. Several small lakes, abounding with fish, and numerous burns, diversify the interior. The latter give name to the straths Iligh, Frigh, Tilney, and Beg. This parish is in the presbytery of Dornoch, and synod of Sutherland and Caithness. The minister has a stipend of £158. The church has been lately built at Helmsdale, where there is also a Free church. In the village are three public schools, besides several schools about the parish. The district is subject to destructive floods. There are several Pictish forts, tumuli, and cairns at Suinalhugh. At this last named spot the Danish in-' vaders Suenus and Aulver Roster fought in the 12th century. Sheep breeding is extensively carried on, and game is abundant."

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


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Kildonan, Church of Scotland

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1851 - Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis

  • KILDONAN, a parish, in the county of Sutherland, 9 miles (N. W. by W.) from Helmsdale; containing 256 inhabitants. This parish takes its name from Kil, a " cell or chapel", and Donan, the name of the saint who promulgated Christianity in this part, and whose memory has been handed down by tradition with great veneration. It is chiefly remarkable as having been, for several ages, the residence of the celebrated clan Gun. They are supposed to have descended from the Norwegian kings of Man; and Lochlin, the Gaelic name for ancient Scandinavia, or at least for Denmark, is still spoken of by the Highlanders as the native country of the Guns, the Macleods, and the Gillanders. The immediate ancestor of the Guns is said to have been the son of Olave, fifth Norwegian king of Man, who had three sons by his third wife, Christina, daughter of Farquhar, Earl of Ross. These were, Gun or Guin, the founder of the clan Gun; Leoid, Loyd, or Leod, from whom sprang the Macleods; and Leaundris, the first of the clan Landers, or Gillanders, of Ross-shire, many of whom afterwards assumed the name of Ross. It appears that these several heads of clans were dependent on their grandfather the Earl of Ross, who possessed great power and influence in different parts of the country, and especially in Caithness. In that county. Gun was originally settled; and his first stronghold was the castle of Halbury, at Easter Clythe, usually called Crowner Gun's Castle, and which was situated on a precipitous rock nearly surrounded by, and overhanging, the sea. The clan of Gun continued to extend their possessions in Caithness till about the middle of the fifteenth century, when, in consequence of their rancorous feuds with the Keiths and others, they thought it expedient to establish their chief, and a strong detachment of the clan, in the adjoining county of Sutherland, where, by the protection of the Earls of Sutherland, they obtained, among other places, lands in the parish of Kildonan, which they held for a considerable period.

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