Sutherland - Gazetteer Description
Sutherland (Scand. Suther-land, ‘the southern land,’ i.e., the land to the S of the Orkneys), a county in the extreme N of Scotland bounded N by the Atlantic Ocean, E by the county of Caithness, SE by the Moray Firth, SSW by the Dornoch Firth and the county of Ross and Cromarty, and WNW by the Minch and the Atlantic Ocean. In shape it is an irregular pentagon with the apex to the NW at Cape Wrath. The side along the N measures 41 miles in a straight line from Cape Wrath eastward to a point midway between the Bay of Bighouse at the mouth of Glen Halladale and Sandside Bay at Reay in Caithness—the distance following the windings of the coast being nearly double; the E side measures 30½ miles in a straight line from the point just indicated to the Ord of Caithness; the SE side, 24 miles in a straight line from the Ord of Caithness to the point at the entrance to the Dornoch Firth; the SSW side, 49 miles in a straight line from this point to Loch Kirkaig at Enard Bay—the distance following the windings in all these cases being somewhat more; and the distance along the WNW side, from Loch Kirkaig to Cape Wrath, is in a straight line 35¾ miles, but following the windings it is double that length. The distance from Rhu Stoer, which is the most westerly point, east-north-eastward to the point where the boundary-line with Caithness reaches the Atlantic, is 59 miles, and the distance from Cape Wrath south eastward to the point at the N side of the entrance to the Dornoch Firth is 63¼ miles. The only alterations made by the Boundary Commissioners in this county were in the parishes of FARR, REAY, DORNOCH, and ROGART, but none of the changes affected the county boundaries. The total area of the county is 2125·717 square miles or 1,359,848 acres, of which 1,297,849 are land, 47,633 are water, 12,812 are foreshore, and 1553 are tidal water. Of the whole land area of 1,297,849 acres, only 31,984 were in 1896 under crop, bare fallow, and grass, and 18,784 under wood, all the rest being rough hill grazing, heath, peat, or stony waste. The increase in land under plough and grass has been 3167 acres within the last fifty years, and of that under wood 7971 acres. The climate varies considerably. Along the Moray Firth coast and in the straths the mean annual temperature is about 45°. In the lower districts snow does not lie long, and the winters are comparatively mild and open, but in spring there are cold N to E winds, and in autumn the glens are early visited by sharp frosts. Among the uplands of the interior of the county the winters are long and severe. The rainfall in the low district along the Moray Firth is on an average little over 31 inches, and along the N coast it is 36 inches, but in the W and NW, where the winds from the Atlantic bring in large quantities of vapour, it rises to 60 inches. The prevailing winds are westerly and north-westerly; those next in frequency are from the E, and are generally wet. Rain falls, on an average, on 200 days in the year. Among the counties of Scotland Sutherland is fifth as regards area, the larger ones being Inverness, Argyll, Ross and Cromarty, and Perth; but it is twenty-ninth as regards population—the only ones below it being Bute, Peebles, Nairn, and Kinross—and twenty-seventh as regards valuation. In proportion to area it is the least densely populated county in Scotland, the average number of persons to the square mile being only 11, while Inverness-shire, with 22, comes next. Along the E side the boundary line follows the rising ground forming the watershed to the E of Strath Halladale—with the Halladale river flowing to the N—and Strath Beg and Strath Ullie—with the river Ullie or Helmsdale flowing to the S. To the E of Strath Halladale the height is nowhere over 900 feet, and is generally between 700 and 800, but to the E of the valley of the Helmsdale the average height is from 1000 to 1700 feet, the highest points being Cnoc Crom-uilt (1199), Knockfin Heights (1416), Cnoc Coirena Fearna (1434), Cnoc an Eireannaich (1698), Creag Scalabsdale (1619), Cnoc na Maoile (1815), Cnoc na Saobhaidhe (1206), Cnoc an Damhain (1324), and thence by Cnoc ah Tubhadair (1078) and the road over the Ord of Caithness (726) to the sea. The run of the boundary along the SSW side has been indicated in describing the boundaries of ROSS AND CROMARTY, the greater part of it being formed by the river Oykell. The N and NW sides are deeply in dented by sea-lochs. On the N from Cape Wrath east ward are Balnakill Bay with the Kyle of Durness, Loch Eriboll, Tongue Bay and the Kyle of Tongue; Torrisdale Bay at the mouth of Strath Naver, with the lesser bays of Parr, Swordly, and Kirtomy to the E; Armadale Bay, Strathy Bay, and Bay of Bighouse (½ x ½ mile) at the entrance to Strath Halladale. To the E of Balnakill Bay is a long narrow promontory (2 miles x 3 furl.) terminating in Fair Aird or Far-out Head; the broad projecting mass of land to the E of the entrance to Loch Eriboll is Kennageal or Whiten head; to the NE of Parr Bay is Parr Point, and between Armadale Bay and Strathy Bay there is a projecting mass terminating on the N at Strathy Point. Near the entrance to Loch Eriboll are Eliean Hoan and the smaller Eilean Cluimhrig; at the entrance to Tongue Bay are the Rabbit Islands, and 1 mile NE, Ellan Iosal and ELLAN NAN RON, separated from the mainland by Kyle Rannoch (½ mile); and there are a number of smaller islands. The only inhabited island is Ron, which is separately noticed, as is also Hoan. The WNW side is still more broken than the N. From Cape Wrath southward are Sandwood Bay with the shallow Sandwood Loch, Loch Inchard, Loch Dougal (1¼ x ½ mile), Loch Laxford with Loch a’Chathaidh branching off its N side, Scourie Bay, the large Edderachylis or EDDRACHILLIS Bay from which branch off Badcall or Badcaul Bay, Loch Cairnbawn (see KYLESKU) branching eastward into Loch Glendhu and Loch Glencoul, Loch Ardvar (1 x ¼ mile), Loch Nedd (¾ x ¼ mile), and Clashnessie Bay; Bay of Stoer, Achmelvich Bay, Loch Roe (1 x ¼ mile), Loch Inver (2½ x ¾ mile), and Loch Kirkaig (1½ x ¼ mile). The only very prominent headland is Rhu Stoer, with the Point of Stoer on the SW side of Eddrachillis Bay. There are an immense number of islands, of which the chief are Eilean an Rin Beag and Eilean an Roin Mor (5 x 1 furl.) 2 miles NW of the mouth of Loch Inchard, Handa S of Scourie Bay, separated from the mainland by the Sound of Handa, Calbha Beag and Calbha Mor at the entrance to Loch Cairnbawn, Oldany in the S of Eddrachullis Bay, and Soyea at the entrance to Loch Invcr. Handa and Oldany were formerly inhabited, but are not so now. Fuller details will be found in the separate articles dealing with the places noted. Both the N and NW coasts are bold and rocky, and some of the cliff scenery is very fine and impressive, particularly about Durness, Cape Wrath, and the island of Handa. On the Moray Firth side the ground is generally low and sandy, and the only opening is Loch FLEET.
Districts and Surface.—In the extreme NW of the county is Durness, and from this eastward along the N coast are the districts of Tongue and Farr, while extending down the W coast are Eddrachillis and Assynt. In the SE along the Moray and Dornoch Firths are the Helmsdale, Loth, Brora, Golspie, Rogart, Dornoch, and Creich districts, and N of the latter at the lower end of Loch Shin is the Lairg District. The minor subdivisions are almost all connected with the stratus, and will be afterwards noticed. The moorland waste between Kyle of Durness and Cape Wrath is known as Parph, and is marked on the map in Blaeu’s Atlas as haunted by ‘verie great plenti of wolfes;’ while Sir Robert Gordon says that ‘there is an excellent and delectable place for hunting called the Parve wher they hunt the reid deir in abundance.’ Between Loch Eriboll and the Kyle of Tongue is A’Mhoine. Round the greater part of all the coast except in the extreme NW, in the bottom of the larger glens, and round most of’ the large lochs there are tracts of low ground, occupying about 1/10 of the whole county, which nowhere rises to a height of more than 500 feet. Of the remainder the greater part is from 500 to 1000 feet high while portions here and there reach heights of from 2000 to 3000 feet, and at one or two points rise above 3000. ‘The whole of the interior,’ says a recent writer, ‘is mountainous, varied, with elevated plateaus covered with heath, vast fields of peat bog, some pleasant straths of average fertility, watered by considerable streams and numerous lakes, embosomed either in bleak dismal regions of moorland, or begirt by a series of hills of conglomerate, whose naked and rugged sides have no covering, even of heather. ‘Wildness and sterility are the great features of the landscape, the dreary monotony being seldom relieved by tree or shrub; and this uniformity of desolation is only occasionally broken by some glen or strath presenting itself as an oasis of verdure in the bleak desert;’ but this description, though in the main fairly correct, hardly conveys an adequate idea of the number of the straths or of the extent to which many of the lochs and glens have had much of their bleak appearance softened or removed by fringes of wood. ‘Though the higher hills call hardly be said to form regular chains or groups, but are scattered about, solitary, with picturesque and curious outlines, or in broad-based lumpish masses without any markedly characteristic features at all; yet the mountainous moorland forming the main portion of the surface is divided into quite distinct portions by a number of straths with well-marked trends. These fall into two great divisions. If a line be drawn from Cape Wrath south-eastward to the centre of the county at Beinn Cleith Bric (Klibreck; 3154 feet), and thence E by N to the centre of the boundary line with Caithness, it will be found that all the hollows to the N and E of these lines, in part of Durness, Tongue, and Farr, run from N to S, while all over the rest of the county the direction of the valleys is from SE to NW. Along the northern portion the principal glens are Strath Dionard southward from the Kyle of Durness, Strath Beag southward from the head of Loch Eriboll, the hollow of Loch Hope and Strath More southward from the entrance to Loch Eriboll, the hollow of Kyle of Tongue and of Amhainn Ceann Locha at its head, the valley of the Borgie and Loch Laoghal, and Strath Naver, both southward from Torrisdale Bay. Strath Naver is the largest valley on the N coast, and near the upper end it branches off W by S into the hollow in which is Loch Naver and the river Mudale, and east ward into a hollow leading to that in which are Lochs nan Cuinne, a’ Chlair, and Baddanloch, which send off their surplus water to the river Helmsdale. Southward from Strathy Bay is the hollow drained by Strathy Water, and from the Bay of Bighouse Strath Halladale extends inland to Forsinard. Short straths extend inland south-eastward from most of the large lochs on the NW coast, but they are neither so large nor well marked as those in the N; the chief one is that from Lochs Inchard and Laxford, by Loch Stack and Loch More. Along the Moray Firth coast, beginning at the NE end, the principal hollows are Strath Ullie or Helmsdale, the short Glen Loth, the hollow occupied by Loch Brora and dividing at its upper end into the Valley of the Black Water and Glen Skinsdale (both N) and Strath Brora (W), the small Dunrobin Glen behind Dunrobin Castle, Strath Fleet, anti Strath Carnach, both branching out from the head of Loch Fleet, and the great hollow of the Dornoch Firth and Strath Oykell. From the latter at Invershin the great hollow occupied by the river Shin and Loch Shin branches off to the N and NW, and continues by Loch Merkland through the narrow glen. of Allt Ceann Locha, to the low ground extending down the sides of Loch More and so to the NW coast. The highest point all along is little over 400 feet above sea-level, and the hollow is traversed by the main line of road from the SE to the W coast. Near the lower end of Loch Shin the minor Strath Tirry branches elf to the N and NW, and off Strath Oykell, which has here an E and W direction 6 ½ miles above Invershin, Glen Cassley branches away to the NW. Several of the points that reach a height of over 1000 feet have already been mentioned in describing the boundary between Sutherland and Caithness, and others are Creag an Oir-airidh (Hill of Ord; 1324), NE of Helmsdale; Eldrable Hill (1338), Beinn na Meilich (1940), and Creag a Mheasgain (1346) between Helmsdale and Glen Loth; Beinn na h-Urrachd (2046) and Beinn Dobhrain (2060), both at the head of Glen Loth; and from these the high ground curves round by Creag Mhor (1581), Cnoc a’Chrubaich Mhoir (1382), Meall an Liath Beag (1512), Meall an Liath Mor (1608), Beinn Smeoral (1592), and Beinn Chol (1767) towards Loch Brora, on the opposite, or south-western, side of which is Beinn nan Corn (1706), with the shoulders of Meall Odhar (1326) to the W and Cagar Feosaig (1239) to the SE. On the opposite side of Dunrobin Glen is Beinn Lundie (1462 feet), with the shoulders of Cnoc na Gamha (1220) to the S and Beinn a Bhragie (1256) to the SE behind Golspie. In the district bounded N by the hollow of Strath Fleet, S by the Dornoch Firth, and W by the river Shin, only a few patches rise over 1000 feet, and none of them to any great extent, the highest points being Beinn Donuill (1144 feet) near the centre, and An Stocbheinn (1104). To the W of the river Shin, and between Loch Shin and Glen Cassley, the heights have a continuous summit-level of over 1000 feet except at two points near the SE end. The highest points from SE to NW are Cnoc a Choire (1318 feet), Carn nam Bo Maola (1389), Beinn Sgreamhaidh (Ben Screavie; 1428), Carrachar Dubh (1238), and Maol a’ Bhealaich (Maolveally; 1673), from which a narrow ridge leads to Ben Leoid (2597) between the glens leading up from Loch Glendhu and Loch Glencoul. To the W of Ben Leoid is Beinn Aird da Loch (1722 feet) between the lochs just mentioned, and E of it Meall an a Chuail (1500), with Meall na Leitreach (1852) to the NW and Meall an Fhuir Loch (2010) to the NE. To the N of Loch Glendhu is Beinn a Bhutha (1777 feet), NW of which beyond Loch an Leathad Bhuain (Led Vuan) is Ben Dreavie (1500), and farther N still at the NW end of Loch More and overlooking Loch Stack is the isolated Ben Stack (2364). To the S of Loch Cairnbawn is Quinag (2653 feet), with shoulders Sail Ghorm (2551; NW), Sail Garbh (2100; N), and Spidean Coinich (2508; S). To the S of this is Loch Assynt, and in the district bounded by the Loch on the N, the river Loanan on the E, and the county boundary at Loch Veyatie and Fionn Loch on the S, are Beinn Garbh (1769 feet), Canisp (2779), and the curious Suilven (The Sugar Loaf; 2399). To the NE, E, and SE of Loch Assynt are Glas Bheinn (Glasven; 2541 feet), Beinn Uidhe (Uie; 2384), Beinn an Fhurain (Ben an Uran; 2500), Ben More Assynt (3273), with a western top Coinnemheall (Coniveal ; 3234), to the S of which is Breabag (2670). The heights along the Cromalt Hills have been already noticed under Ross and Cromarty. The southern shoulder of Ben More Assynt is Carn nan Conbhairean, and to the SE of it is the outlying summit of Meall an Aonaich (2345 feet), which is cut off by the hollows of the Ruathair and Muic from the high ground that stretches away to the SE between the upper Oykell and the Cassley with am average height of about 1200 feet, the highest points being near the centre at Carn na Ceardaich (1633) and Beinn na Eoin (1785). In the south-western district between Loch Inchard and the Kyle of Durness and lower Strath Dionard a height of over 1000 feet is reached at several points, but only Creag Riabhach (1592 feet), Meall na Moine (1522), and Farrmheall (Farveal; 1709) rise to over 1500. At the head of Strath Dionard a line of heights commences and stretches south-eastward into the centre of the county, being divided into minor sections by cross glens. The highest points from NW to SE are Foinne Bheinn (Foinaven) with its different tops Ceann Garbh (2952 feet), Ceann Mor (2980), and Creag Dionard (2554); Arcuil (2580), Meall a’ Chuirn (Meall Horn; 2548), Sabhal Mor (2288), Sabhal Beag (2393), Meall Garbh (2471), Meall an Liath (2625), Carn Dearg (2613), Carn an Tionail (2484), Riabhaich (2500), Ben Hee (2864), Creag Dhubh Mhor (1821), Creag Dhubh Bheag (1500), Meall an Fhuarain (Uaran; 1549), Beinn Cleith Bric (Klibreck) with the tops of Meahl an Eoin (3154) and Carn an Eild (2500), and the lumpy mass of Beinn an Armuinn (Ben Armine) with the tops of Creag na h-Iolaire (2278) and Creag Mhor (2338). Between Strath Dionard and the head of Loch Eriboll are Beinn Spionnaidh (2537 feet) and Grann Stacach (2630); between Strath More and the head of Kyle of Tongue is Ben Hope (3040), with the north-eastern shoulders Creag Riabhach Bheag (1521), Creag Riabhach Mhor (1500), and Meall an Liath (1952); 5 miles E of Ben Hope is Ben Laoghal (Ben Loyal; 2504), and on the opposite side of Loch Laoghal is Beinn ‘s Tomaine (Ben Stomine; 1728); while 12 miles ESE near the sources of the Helmsdale river are Ben Griam Bheag (1903) and Ben Griam Mhor (1936)
Rivers and Lakes.—Sutherlandshire may be divided into three different drainage basins, by lines drawn from Cape Wrath south-eastward by Creag Riabhaich, Fionne Bheinn, and Meall a’ Chuirn to Carn Dearg; from Carn Dearg southwards by Ben Leoid, Beinn an Fhurain, and Breabag to the E end of the Cromalt Hills; and from Carn Dearg in a winding course by the N end of Ben Hee, the S end of the high ground at Creag Dhubh Bheag, the S end of Beinn Cleith Bric, to Creag na h-Iolaire, thence N by E along the E border of upper Strath Naver, and thereafter in a winding course eastward to Forsinard. In the district to the N of the first and third of these lines and covering about half the whole county the general inclination is to the N, and all the rivers run to the Atlantic, the chief from W to E being the Chearbhaig; the Claigionnaich, the Buaigheal Duibhe, and the Dionard, all flowing to Kyle of Durness; the Amhainn an t’ Stratha Beag, at the top of Loch Eribol1, and the river Hope, near the entrance; the Melness, near the entrance to the Kyle of Tongue, the Arnhainn Ceann Locha at its head, and the Allt an Rian on the E side at the village of Tongue; the Allt an Dearg at Kyle Rannoch; the Borgie and the Naver —with upper tributaries, the Mudale Bagaisteach (Bagastie) and Mallart—at Torrisdale Bay; Strathy Water at Strathy Bay; and the Halladale—with upper tributary Dyke Water—at Bay of Bighouse. In the district W of the first and second lines, and covering about one-sixth of the whole county, the streams flow westward or north-westward to the Minch and the Atlantic. The chief are, from N to S, the Sinairidh, flowing into Sandwood Bay; the Laxford, flowing to Loch Laxford; the Inver, flowing from Loch Assynt to Loch Inver, and its upper continuation, the Loanan, Ilowing into Loch Assynt at Inchnadamff; the Amhain na Clach Airidh, also flowing to Loch Inver; and the Kirkaig from Fionn Loch and Loch Veyatie, flowing along the boundary with Ross and Cromarty to Loch Kirkaig. In the third division, between the second and third of the lines mentioned, and covering one-third of the county, the rivers flow in a south-easterly direction to the Moray Firth. The principal streams, from NE to SW, are the Helmsdale, Loth Burn, the Brora, the Black Water, Golspie Burn, the river Fleet, the river Evelix, and the Oykell, with its tributaries the Shin and the Cassley. The county is full of lochs of all sizes, from Loch Shin (16 ⅜ x 1½ mile; 270 feet above sea-level) down to mere tarns. There are said to be more than 250 in the Assynt district alone, and 70 may be counted from the summit of Quinag. The western drainage basin is simply a network of small lochs and lochans. The principal sheets of water—which alone it is possible to mention here—are :—(in the northern drainage basin) Loch Airidh na Beinne, W of Kyle of Durness; Loch Hope (12), E of Loch Eriboll; Loch na Seilg and Loch a’ Ghabha Dhuibh, high up Ben Hope; Loch an Dithreibh (Deerie), in the glen upward from Kyle of Tongue; Loch Creagach and Loch Laoghal (both 369), in the hollow of the river Borgie; Loch Naver (247) and Lochs a’ Bhealaich and Coir’ an Fhearna (both 570), in the upper part of Strath Naver, to the W and N respectively; and Loch na Meide (518), to the NW; Loch Meadie (405), SE of Farr; Loch Leum a Chlamhain (770), between the two Ben Griams: (in the south-eastern basin) Loch an Ruathair (415) and Loch Truid Air Sgithiche (Loch Truderscaig; 426), Loch nan Cuinne, Loch a’ Chlair, and Loch Baddauloch (all 392); Loch Allt an Fhearna (433) and Loch na Moine (377), all in the upper waters of the Helmsdale river; Loch Brora (91), on the Brora; Loch Migdale (115), E of Bonar-Bridge; Loch Shin (270), Loch a’ Ghriama (304), and Loch Merkland (368), all in the valley of the Shin; Loch Fiodhaig (Fiack), on one of its feeders; and Loch Ailsh (498), on the upper part of the Oykell: (in the western drainage basin) a chain of small lochans E by S of Loch Inchard; Loch Stack (118) and Loch More (127), both in the valley of the Laxford river; Loch an Leathaid Bhuain (Led Vuan), discharging by the Muldie Burn into Loch Glendhu; Loch Leothaid (Leoid), W of Quinag; Loch Assynt (215), in the valley of the Inver; Loch Crocach, 2 miles N of Loch Inver; Loch na Gainimh (Ganive), between Canisp and Suilven; parts of Fionn Loch (357) and Loch Veyatie (366), and the whole of Cam Loch (405), Loch Urigill (515), and Loch Borrolan (460), all in the valley of the Kirkaig. The fishing in all the streams and lochs is very good, especially for trout. There is a remarkable subterranean lake in the Cave of Smoo in Durness. All the chief hills, rivers, and lochs are separately noticed; and for further details reference may be made to the particular articles dealing with them.
Geology. —Along the W border of Sutherlandshire, an extensive area is occupied by those crystalline Archaean rocks which might not inaptly be regarded as the foundation stones of Scotland. From the wild headland of’ Cape Wrath they can be traced at intervals rising from underneath the Torridon sandstones to Loch Inchard, and from the latter sea-loch they cover a belt of ground along the coast S to the county boundary at Loch Inver. From the top of one of the minor hills at Scourie the observer can descry, for miles around, that peculiar type of scenery which is found nowhere else in Scotland. Bare, rounded hummocks and bosses of grey gneiss follow each other in endless succession, and in the hollows there are pools and lochs filling rock basins. Huge boulders are strewn over the barren hummocks, which, with the highly polished surfaces of the gneiss, give one a vivid impression of the glaciation of that region. With certain prominent exceptions, these verdureless knolls and hills of ArchÃ¦an gneiss do not rise much above one uniform level, which only tends to increase the monotony of the landscape. These ancient rocks, whatever may have been their origin, are now wholly crystalline. For the most part they are composed of micaceous, hornblendic, and diallage gneisses, with bands of mica schist. Frequently they contain masses of basic material showing little or no foliation. A remarkable feature of the Archaean series to the south of Scourie is the abundance of dykes of epidiorite and peridotite traversing the gneiss in a NW direction. They must have been erupted subsequent to the consolidation and banding of the gneiss. There is clear evidence, however, to show that at a later date both gneiss and dykes were affected by dynamical movements which produced planes of schistosity and gave rise to new crystalline structures. Again, in the area between Scourie and Durness, the crystalline gneiss is traversed by a great plexus of acid igneous rocks in the form of dykes or sheets, composed of granite and associated pegmatites. The latter are admirably seen along the road leading from Loch Laxford to Rhiconich. Numerous mineral localities are to be found in the area occupied by the Archaean gneiss, some of which have been minutely described by Dr Heddle. The rocks in the neighbourhood of Scourie are not only interesting for their lithological varieties, but also for the minerals contained in them. Garnets abound in the hornblende rocks on the shore S of the village, and at the N W promontory of the Bay of Scourie, hydrous anthophyllite with small crystals of talc or ripidolite is to be met with. Not far to the S of Cape Wrath, Professor Heddle found an interesting mineral locality yielding chert, moss-agate, actinolite, hydrous anthophyllite, steatite, and ripidolite, and he also found a thin vein of chalcopyrite and chrysocolla in the gneiss to the SE of Rhiconich. In the gneiss and pegmatite on Ben Kcnnabin and other localities, agalmatolite is found in considerable abundance. An interesting feature connected with the veins of pegmatite is the occurrence in them of crystals of titaniferous iron, which disintegrate under the influence of atmospheric agencies, and the grains form a black sand strewn along the seashore. This undulating plateau of bare gneiss hills was originally covered by a vast pile of Torridon sandstones which have since been removed by denudation. Notwithstanding this excessive waste, there are still extensive relics of these overlying sedimentary deposits in the extreme NW of the county and in Assynt. Between Cape Wrath and the Kyle of Durness they form one of the noblest hills in. Scotland, reaching a height of 650 feet, and yet neither the base nor the top of the series is exposed in this section. Between Loch Inchard and the Kyle of Burness, however, the unconformable junction between the Torridon sandstones and the Archaean gneiss is admirably exposed at various localities. From the researches of the Geological Survey it appears that they are divisible into certain zones, the lower portion of the series consisting of breccias, conglomerates, and alternations of grits and conglomeratic sandstones. These graduate upwards into red sandstones, indicating deposition in deeper water. By a series of remarkable dislocations, which will be referred to in the article on the geology of Scotland, the unconformable base line of the Torridon formation has been repeatedly shifted, and hence, as the observer traverses the region from Rhiconich to Cape Wrath, he crosses again and again the same succession of beds. In Assynt the unconformability at the base of the Torridon strata is well marked, and in that region, too, the geologist cannot fail to realise the enormous denudation to which these red sandstones have been subjected. The great terraced escarpments of Suilven, now completely isolated from Quinaig, Canisp, and Coul More, with which they were at one time connected, enable one to compute the thickness of the vast pile of strata since removed by denudation. The foregoing formation of Torridon Sandstone was regarded by Murchison as the equivalent of the Cambrian rocks of Wales, but recent discoveries in time over lying fucoid beds in Ross-shire have shown that the Torridon Sandstone must be of pre-Cambrian age. The discovery of certain trilobites in the fucoid beds, the horizon of which is clearly defined, proves that the quartzites, fucoid beds, and limestones, are mainly but not wholly Cambrian. A careful examination of the sections in Sutherlandshire proves beyond doubt that there is a marked unconformability between these Torridon sandstones and the Cambrian strata overlying them. On the slopes of Quinaig and Canisp, the white quartzites at the base of the Cambrian series being inclined at a higher angle, cross the successive beds of Torridon sandstone, which are nearly horizontal or tilted at a gentle angle to the SE. Indeed, this unconformable relation is so strongly marked that the observer can trace it, even in the far distance. Still more striking proof is obtained in the Durness area, for to the W of the Kyle of Durness the Cambrian quartzites pass transgressively across the edges of the underlying Torridon sandstones till they rest on the Archaean gneiss. It is apparent, therefore, that prior to the deposition of the Cambrian sediments there must have been extensive denudation of the Torridon deposits. The various subdivisions of the Cambrian formation as developed in this county will be given in the article on the geology of Scotland. From the quartzites at the base of the formation, a regular order of succession has been established through the fucoid beds and serpulite grit to the limestones at the top of the series. In the Durness area, where the limestones yield fossils, and where they are typically developed, the Cambrian strata are arranged in the form of a basin, which has been isolated from the same series of rocks in the Eriboll area by normal faults. On the E side of these great dislocations there rises a prominent escarpment of Archaean gneiss, which is traceable from Kennabin near Durness, S by Ben Spionnu, Ben Stack, to Quinaig in Assynt. The E slope of this ridge is covered by the quartzites at the base of the Cambrian series, followed by the fucoid beds, serpulite grit, and the limestone, which are repeated by a series of folds and reversed faults. Eventually, at various localities along the line from Eriboll to Assynt, the Archaean gneiss is brought up by means of a great reversed fault or thrust plane, and is made to overlie the Cambrian strata. This is followed by another great thrust plane or reversed fault, which ushers in the eastern schists with a general dip to the ESE at gentle angles. The peculiar features of these schists as well as the order of succession will be given elsewhere in this volume. At present it will be sufficient to state that throughout a large part of the county the metamorphic rocks are remarkably uniform in character, consisting of flaggy gneiss and mica schist, and that, disregarding minor folds, the general inclination of the beds is to the ESE. An interesting band of limestone is met with on the banks of Loch Shin at Shinness and Arskaig, which has yielded to Professor Heddle a rich variety of minerals. In approaching the limestone the mica schists and gneiss become more hornblendic, while a bed of hornblende rock immediately overlies the limestone. In the contact zone the following minerals, among others, were obtained by Dr Heddle: Biotite, Actinolite, Tremolite, Asbestos, Augite, Pyrite, Sahlite, Sphene, Apatite, Chlorite, Steatite, etc. He regards the specimens of sphene found at this locality as the finest in Britain. Several important masses of granite and syenite occur among the eastern schists: one forms the tract of high ground round Ben Loyal; another, Ben Stomino; a third occupies a tract on the county boundary at the head of Strath Halladale; a fourth extends from Lairg to near Rogart station; a fifth is situated to the N of the Dornoch estuary on the Migdale Hill; while a sixth occurs at the Ord, and is traceable SW by Helmsdale to Lothbeg. The granite forming Ben Loyal, which is perhaps one of the most picturesque mountains in Sutherland, is fine grained, containing quartz, felspar, black mica, and hornblende. From this centre boulders were dispersed in great numbers during the glacial period, two of which deserve special notice on account of the rare series of minerals which they yielded to the Rev. Dr Joass and Professor Heddle. Occurring on the E slope of Ben Bhreck, in the line of the ice movement from Ben Loyal, there can be little doubt that they were derived from that mass. In or near a small infiltration vein traversing one of these boulders the following minerals, among others, were found: Babingtonite, Fluorspar, Sphene, Allanite, Magnetite, Ilmeinite, Amazon stone, Strontianite, etc. Of these, perhaps the most interesting are the beautiful green-tinted crystals of Amazon stone. Resting unconformably on the metamorphic rocks of Sutherland, there are numerous outliers of Old Red. Sandstone which evidently belong to the lower division of that formation. They have not, as yet, been found to the W of the Kyle of Tongue; but on the hills immediately to the E of this arm of the sea there are large masses of coarse conglomerate, and also on the Roan Islands at the mouth of the Kyle. On the ridge to the E of the Kyle the conglomerate can be traced more or less continuously from Culbackie by Cnoc Fhreiccadain to the slopes of Ben Stomino, where the materials consist mainly of granitic detritus. A similar outlier occurs on the crest of Ben Armine. There are two prominent hills in the E of Sutherland, however, that rise with steep slopes from the undulating moorland of schist and gneiss which owe their special features to cappings of coarse conglomerate, viz., Ben Griam More and Ben Griam Beg. With the strata inclined at low angles, and forming a series of parallel lines, they remind one of the great cone of Morvern in Caithness. In Kirktomy Bay, and again to the E of Strathy Point, strata of the same age occur. At the former locality they consist of red sandstones, with nodular bands and red sandy clays. At the latter point they are traceable from Strathy Bay E by Melvich to the county boundary. At the base there is a pink granite breccia, with thin seams of sandstone passing upwards into a group of flagstones forming bluff cliffs, which show excellent sections of the beds. From the researches of Sir Archibald Geikie it appears that there is a gradually ascending series from the county boundary W to Bighouse Bay; but at the latter locality the beds dip to NNE. At the Portskerry Harbour the unconformability is admirably seen, the crystalline gneiss and granite being covered by a thin breccia passing up into yellow and greenish sandstones, which yielded fish remains to Mr C. W. Peach. Still farther W, near Baligill, grey and red sandstones, with flagstones and calcareous shales yielding Dipterus, Thyrsius, and Coccosteus, are to be found. At this locality also a thin seam of workable limestone is intercalated with the Old Red strata.
The patches of Old Red Sandstone just described are insignificant in extent compared with the area which they cover along the E seaboard. From Ben Uarie near thee Glen of Loth they can be followed S by Ben Smeorail, Ben a Braghie, to the mouth of the Dornoch Firth. Forming a belt of ground averaging 5 miles in width, they consist mainly of coarse conglomerates resting unconformably on the highly denuded metamorphic rocks. That this great development of conglomerate is of no great thickness is apparent from the fact that the river Brora has cut through the deposit, exposing the platform of crystalline rocks on both sides of the valley. Still more interesting is the narrow belt of flagstones, resembling a part of the Caithness flagstone series, which is wedged between two faults on the shore between Helmsdale and Lothbeg. The relations of these flagstones were first described by Professor Judd, who showed that the belt of strata, which is about 5 miles long and about ½ mile broad, is bounded on the W side by a fault bringing them into conjunction with a mass of granite, while on the E side they are truncated by a fault throwing down strata of Upper Oolite age. He suggests that the great fault bounding the Secondary strata in Sutherlandshire divided into two branches along 5 miles of its course, and that the patch of Old Red flagstones has been preserved between these branching faults. The best section of the strata occurs in the Gartymore Burn N of Port Gower, where they consist of calcareous flags, red and green argillaceous beds with red and white sandstones. From these beds a fragment of Coccosteus has been obtained, so that there can be no doubt that they belong to some portion of the Caithness flagstone series. Along the E coast of Sutherland from Helmsdale to the Ord, a distance of about 16 miles, a belt of Secondary strata can be traced more or less continuously, which are evidently but fragmentary relics of formations originally having a great development. By means of a powerful fault running parallel with the coast, they have been brought into conjunction with the metamorphic and associated igneous rocks already described. Partly on account of the presence of coal seams in this area, and partly owing to the abundance of fossils in many of the beds, this development of Secondary strata has been examined and described by numerous investigators. The recent researches of Professor Judd have added largely to our knowledge of the order of succession of these beds and of the physical conditions which prevailed during their deposition. The strata occupying the lowest geological position, consisting of sandstones overlaid by a peculiar cherty calcareous rock, are to be found on the seashore between Dunrobin and Golspie, in Dunrobin Glen, and in the burn of Golspie. Regarded by Professor Judd as the equivalents of the reptiliferous sandstones and cherty rock of Triassic age in Elginshire, they have, as yet, yielded no fossils to determine their horizon. They are immediately followed by sandstones and conglomerates containing pebbles derived from the foregoing strata, marking the base of the Lias. To these succeed a group of estuarine strata, consisting of sandstones, shales, and coal seams, the latter being extremely thin; and towards their upper limits they graduate into blue micaceous clays with shelly limestones yielding marine fossils characteristic of the Lower Lias, such as Belemniles acutus, Ammonites caprotinus, A. oxymotus, Pholadomya ambigua, Pecten liasinus, P. tumidus, P. subloevis, Lima. punctata, Gryphoea obliqua, etc. The strata just described are overlain by the representatives of the Middle Lias, consisting of micaceous clays with pyrites and nodules of argillaceous limestone, inclined to the NNE at a gentle angle. It is probable that the members of this subdivision are truncated by a fault on the N side throwing down the clays of Middle Oolite exposed at Clayside. This much is certain that none of the sections in Sutherland shows the relations of the Lias to the Lower Oolites. The latter are represented by sandstones, shales, and coals, in large part estuarine, and followed by marine strata on the horizon of the lower part of the Middle Oolite. The estuarine strata of Lower Oolite age are of special importance, as they contain the seams of coal which have led to repeated but not very successful mining operations. The main seam of coal, from 3 to 4 feet thick, is overlain by a roof-bed marking the base of the Middle Oolite. In places it really forms a good coal, being composed of the crushed stems of Equisetites columnaris, but the presence of a thin layer of pyrites considerably affects its economic value. It occurs on the shore at Brora, in the valley of the river Brora, and other localities. Owing to the estuarine character of the strata, the order of succession varies considerably, even within a short distance. Several remarkable examples of this phenomenon are given by Professor Judd, but one will suffice to show their variable character. In the section at Cadh-an-Righ on the Ross-shire coast the position of the Main Coal seam is represented only by a carbonaceous band about 5 inches thick.
Overlying the estuarine series just described, we find a considerable development of marine beds alternating with estuarine strata representing the Middle Oolite. At the base there is a prominent band known as the roof-bed of the coal-bearing strata, consisting of a hard calcareous sandstone, charged in. the lower part with plant remains, and in the upper part with marine shells. In virtue of the fossils obtained from this band it has been placed on the same horizon as ‘the Kelloway Rock’ in Yorkshire. This zone is succeeded by a mass of clayey and sandy strata, the former yielding Ammonites ornatus, A. Jason, Belemnitus Owenii, B. hastatus, Cerithium muricatum, Gryphoe dilatata. In the thin zone of marine sandstones overlying these clays the following fossils have been found: Ammonites cordatus, A. perarmatus, A. excavates, Belemnites sulcatus, etc. Next in order comes a considerable thickness of sandstones, probably of estuarine origin, which have been extensively quarried on the Braamberry and Hare Hills, as they form an excellent building stone. These are followed by a bed of grey sandy limestone regarded by Professor Judd as the equivalent of the Coralline Oolite, and yielding AmmonÃtes excavatus, A. cordatus, A. vertebralis, with species of the genera Pecten, Pholadomya, Modiola, Lima, etc. This horizon is overlain by clays, sandstones, and limestones, the latter alternating with dark clays which probably mark the highest beds of the Middle Oolite in this county. In the neighbourhood of Braambcrry Hill, the fore going series is succeeded by certain strata marking the base of the Upper Oolite. This important group—the true position of which was first defined by Professor Judd—is represented in Sutherland by shales, sandstones, and grits, seemingly of estuarine origin, and reaching a thickness of about 1000 feet. They extend along the shore from the neighbourhood of Clyne to Green Table near the Ord—a distance of 11 miles, being repeated by a series of anticlinal and synclinal folds, which afford excellent opportunities for studying the characters of the beds. Between Garty and the Ord they present certain remarkable features deserving of special notice. At Kintradwell and Lothbeg the strata possess their usual characteristics; but to the N of Garty, blocks of foreign rocks are embedded in the grits and limestones, till at the Ord these included fragments are so abundant and of such a size, that a special name has been assigned to them. They were first described by Sir Roderick Murchison as the ‘brecciated beds of the Ord,’ which aptly indicates their remarkable features. At certain localities, as at Colyburn, the blocks consist of the same material as the matrix, both yielding fossils of Secondary age; but such is not the case at the Ord. At the latter locality huge blocks of Caithness flags, with hard sandstones and shales, are embedded in the matrix; the former yielded to Hugh Miller fish remains of Old Red Sandstone age, while the matrix contains Jurassic fossils. It is somewhat remarkable that these ‘brecciated beds’ should alternate with finely laminated shales, thin sandstones with ammonites, and even thin layers of lignite, indicating deposition in still water. These alternations only show the rapid changes in the physical conditions which prevailed during the period of the Upper Oolite in that region. From the fossils found in the matrix of the ‘brecciated beds’ and the strata associated with them, there can be no doubt of their geological horizon. The suggestion has been thrown out by Professor Judd, that violent floods may have occurred at intervals during that period, when sub-angular masses of the parent rocks, with trunks of trees, may have been borne seawards, and that ice rafts may have helped in the transport of the materials.
In connection with the organic remains found in the Upper Oolites of Sutherland, reference ought to be made to the rich flora which they contain, consisting of ferns, cycads, and coniferae, so eloquently described by Hugh Miller in his Testimony of the Rocks. But in addition to the plant remains, masses of coral, ammonites, and belemnites are abundantly found in these strata. The following forms have been obtained: Ammonites biplex; A. triplicatus, A. alternans, Belemnites abbreviatus, B. obeliscuss, B. spicularis, Lima concetrica, L. laeviuscula, Pecten vimincus, Ostrea Bruntrutana, O. expansa, Rhynconella Sutherlandi, Terebratula Joassi, etc. Between Navidale and Green Table, the shales, grits, and limestones just described are succeeded by light-coloured sandstones, becoming ferruginous in places which as yet have not yielded any fossils. According to Professor Judd, these sandstones form the highest beds found in situ of the Secondary formations on the E coast of Scotland. During the glacial period, the ice radiated from the high grounds of Sutherland in different directions. Along the W coast the general trend of the ice markings is towards the NW; on the N coast the direction varies from N to NNW; while on the E side of the watershed the striae point towards the Moray Firth. Amongst the glacial deposits, the enormous development of moraines claims special notice. It is interesting to observe the relics of these ancient glaciers along the margin of the 50-feet beach at various points in the county, thus clearly indicating the existence of glacial conditions in comparatively recent geological time. In the course of the Geological Survey, an interesting discovery has recently been made of a bone cave in Assynt. The bones are referable to thirty-three distinct species of mammals, birds, amphibia, and fishes. The remains of the northern lynx, the Arctic lemming, the northern vole, and the brown bear were exhumed from the cave deposits. These animals no longer live in Britain, and the remains of some of them at least indicate a very considerable antiquity for these deposits.
Economic Minerals.—The bed of limestone in the metamorphic series was formerly wrought at Shinncss, and likewise the calcareous band in the Old Red Sand stone at Strathy, and several of the beds of limestone on the E seaboard, N of Golspie. Numerous attempts have been made to work the coal seams in the Lower Oolite, but owing to the presence of iron pyrites in the beds their value for household purposes is much impaired. Excellent building stone is obtained from the sandstone quarries on Hare Hill and Braamberry Hill, the stone being in much request for its white colour and excellent quality. It was used in the erection of London Bridge, Dunrobin Castle, and other important buildings. Extensive operations were at one time carried on in search of gold, with no satisfactory success. From the observations made by the Rev. Dr Joass, it appears that gold was found at the following localities: in the Blackwater, Strath Brora, at the head of Clyne-Milton Burn, in the Helmsdale river and the Kildonan Burn, in the Suisgill Burn, and other places. The gold in the Suisgill and Kildonan Burns was found in water-rolled stones, composed of felspar and quartz. He makes the following important statement, that since many of the streams were searched in vain, it ‘suggests no widespread deposit, the result of extensive glaciation, but several independent centres connected with the local rocks.’
Soils and Agriculture. —The arable land is entirely confined to the lower part of the county, and mainly to the narrow strip along the SE coast, where the soil, though generally light, yields good returns to skilful farmers. The soil there varies from light sandy and gravelly loam through clay-loam and black loam to a stiff clay. The black loam occurs in patches, and the clay is mostly in the parish of Loth, particularly in the small tract of carse land near the mouth of the Burn of Loth. In Assynt there is practically no arable land, and in Durness little over 300 acres; but elsewhere, particularly in Strath Helmsdale, Strath Naver, Strathy, and Strath Halladale, there are patches of light soil along the edges of the rivers. The rest of the county is given up to grazings for cattle and sheep or to deer forests, of which there are the following—Ben Armine, about the hill of the same name, containing 35,840 acres; Glen Canisp, about Canisp, 30,000 acres; Glen dhu, 40,000 acres; Gober Nuisgach, about 20 miles from Lairg, 12,000 acres; Kinloch, about 5 miles SW of the village of Tongue, 40,000 acres; and Reay, about Ben Stack, 64,600 acres—a total of about 200,000 acres devoted to this purpose. The grouse moors are good, and they are also used for grazing purposes. A large portion of the county is and must ever remain practically a heathy and rocky waste. Agricultural improvements under such conditions were very late of being attempted, especially as the county was the last district in Scotland to be opened up to free intercourse with the outer world; and their first introduction was accompanied by that transference of population known as the ‘Sutherland Clearances,’ the wisdom of which still forms such a vexed question among the friends of the crofters. The small tenants had, in the beginning of the 19th century, spread all over the county, taking ‘advantage of every spot that could be cultivated, and which could with any chance of success be applied to raising a precarious crop of inferior oats, of which they baked their cakes, and of bere, from which they distilled their whisky. Impatient of regular and constant work, all heavy labour was abandoned to the women, who were employed occasionally even in dragging the harrow to cover in the seed. To build their huts or to get in their peats for fuel, or to perform any other occasional labour of the kind, the men were ever ready to assist; but the great proportion of their time, when not in the pursuit of game or of illegal distillation, was spent in indolence and sloth. Their huts were of the most miserable description; they were built of turf dug from the most valuable portions of the mountain side. Their roof consisted of the same material, which was supported upon a wooden frame constructed of crooked timber taken from the natural woods belonging to the proprietor, and of moss-fir dug from the peat bogs. The situation they selected was uniformly on the edge of the cultivated land and of the mountain pastures. They were placed lengthways, and sloping with the declination of the hill. This position was chosen in order that all the filth might flow from the habitation without further exertion upon the part of the owner. Under the same roof and entering at the same door were kept all the domestic animals belonging to the establishment. The upper portion of the hut was appropriated to the use of the family. In the centre of this upper division was placed the fire, the smoke from which was made to circulate throughout the whole hut for the purpose of conveying heat into its furthest extremities—the effect being to cover everything with a black, glossy soot, and to produce the most evident injury to the appearance and eyesight of those most exposed to its influence. The floor was the bare earth, except near the fire-place, where it was rudely paved with rough stones. It was never levelled with much care, and it soon wore into every sort of inequality, according to the hardness of the respective soils of which it was composed. Every hollow formed a receptacle for whatever fluid happened to fall near it, where it remained until absorbed by the earth. It was impossible that it should ever be swept; and when the accumulation of filth rendered the place uninhabitable, another hut was erected in the vicinity of the old one. The old rafters were used in the construction of the new cottage, and that which was abandoned formed a valuable collection of manure for the next crop. The introduction of the potato in the first instance proved no blessing to Sutherland, but only increased the state of wretchedness, inasmuch as its cultivation required less labour, and it was the means of supporting a denser population. The cultivation of this root was eagerly adopted; but being planted in places where man never would have fixed his habitation but for the adventitious circumstances already mentioned, this delicate vegetable was of course exposed to the inclemency of a climate for which it was not suited, and fell a more ready and frequent victim to the mildews and the early frosts of the mountains, which frequently occur in August, than did the oats and bere. This was particularly the case along the courses of the rivers, near which it was gene rally planted, on account of the superior depth of soil. The failure of such a crop brought accumulated evils upon the poor people in a year of scarcity, and also made such calamities more frequent; for in the same proportion as it gave sustenance to a larger number of inhabitants when the crop was good, so did it dash into misery, in years when it failed, a larger number of helpless and suffering objects. As often as this melancholy state of matters arose—and, upon an average, it occurred every third or fourth year, to a greater or less degree—the starving population of the estate became necessarily dependent for their support on the bounty of the land lord. . . . The cattle which they reared on the mountains, and on the sale of which they depended for the payment of their rents, were of the poorest description. During summer they procured a scanty sustenance, with much toil and labour, by roaming over the mountains; while in winter they died in numbers for the want of support, notwithstanding a practice which was universally adopted of killing every second calf on account of the want of winter keep. To such an extent did this calamity at times amount, that in the spring of 1807 there died, in the parish of Kildonan alone, 200 cows, 500 head of cattle, and more than. 200 small horses.’
In consequence of the constant recurrence of such famine periods, when these small tenants and their families thus became, in consequence of the loss of cattle and sheep and the failure of their crops, absolutely dependent on others for support, ‘it was thought desirable that some change should be made in the condition of the people, both for their own interests and with the view of properly developing the resources of the county. The subject was remitted by Lord Stafford, the first Duke of Sutherland, to eminent agriculturists, who reported in effect, “that the mountainous parts of the estate—and, indeed, of the county of Sutherland—were as much calculated for the maintenance of stock as they were unfit for the habitation of man;” and that it seemed “as if it had been pointed out by Nature that the system for this remote district, in order that it might bear its suitable importance in contributing its share to the general stock of the country, was to convert the mountainous districts into sheep-walks, and to remove the inhabitants to the coast, or to the valleys near the sea.” The movements thus indicated were carried into effect between 1810 and 1820, the great bulk of the small tenants and their families having been settled near the coast, where a limited piece of land was allotted to each at a merely nominal rent. It is stated, also, that a few who preferred that step were conveyed to Canada at Lord Stafford’s expense; but it is denied that the population of the county was reduced to any appreciable extent by emigration due to these clearances;’ and that this is true is clear from the census returns, which show a continuous though small increase from 1801 to 1831.
The decrease since that time has probably been brought about more by the tendency of labourers to pass south to places where wages are higher than by emigration, compulsory or otherwise; and a recent observer, who had good opportunity of studying the subject, thinks that the smaller tenants are ‘better educated, better fed, and better clothed, as well as better housed, than when they were scattered along the straths in the interior.’ Sutherlandshire, along with the other counties affected, has benefited by the decisions of the Crofters Commission as regards reduction of rents and cancelling of arrears.
The increase in the amount of the arable land in the county since the beginning of the 19th century has probably been about 14,000 acres, the estimated area in 1808 having been 18,125 acres, while now it is 31,984. In consequence of the large sums spent by the people on the Sutherland estates in the purchase of oatmeal and turnips from districts outside the county, the Duke of Sutherland determined in 1870 to try to increase the arable area on his estate, and requested the late well- known agriculturist, Mr Kenneth Murray of GEANIES, to make a careful survey of such portions of the property as seemed most suitable for reclamation. On his recommendation large tracts were cleared and reclaimed between 1873 and 1878 at LAIRG and KILDONAN at very great expense. The ground was deep-drained and deeply ploughed and trenched by means of large ploughs and other implements—many of them specially designed for the purpose—all worked by steam. The operations attracted a great amount of notice at the time, and during their progress the place was visited by a deputation of the members of the Highland and Agricultural Society in 1874 and by the Prince of ‘Wales in 1876. In many cases the process involved the creation rather than the improvement of the soil, and was carried out, in the earlier cases at all events, at an outlay that only a very wealthy proprietor with other sources of income than these northern estates could venture to incur. In fact the expenditure on the Sutherland estates between 1853 and 1882 exceeded the income derived from them by £245, 374, exclusive of the household maintenance. Of the total expenditure the sum of £254,900 was on reclamation, £226,300 on railways, and £47,516 on the works at Brora. The percentage of cultivated to whole area (23) is the lowest in Scotland. The areas under the various crops in different years are given in the following tables :—
|Year||Wheat||Barley or Bere||Oats||Total|
GRASS, Root CROPS, ETC.—ACRES.
|Year||Hay and Grass in Rotation||Permanent Pasture||Turnips||Potatoes|
There are on an average about 120 acres under other grain crops, and about 50 under other green crops. The fallow used to average about 150 acres, but in 1896 it was only 80. Wheat has fallen off rapidly since 1870, principally in consequence of the wet seasons, there being none in 1896; but oats give a large yield, and the grain is of good quality, the soil and climate being admirably suited for this crop. Cattle rearing is not carried on to any great extent. The old small black cattle are now gone, and their place has been taken by West Highland, polled, short horn, and cross-bred animals. The horses on the large farms are Clydesdales, but on the smaller farms they are lighter, though compact, well-shaped, and active; and many of the crofters have ponies. At the beginning of the 19th century the sheep were mostly of the old small Kerry breed, but in 1806-7 these nearly all died from disease, and in the latter year two Northumbrian sheep-farmers took a grazing farm in the centre of the county about Beinn Cleith Bric and Beinn au Armuinn and introduced Cheviots, which remain the principal breed in the county. An attempt once made to introduce merino sheep did not succeed. The rents of sheep farms vary from 4s. to 7s. a head. Over 92 per cent. of the holdings are under 20 acres, and over 68 per cent. under 5 acres, and of the remainder the greater portion are under 100 acres, but some of the sheep farms are of a very large size. No county has such a large percentage of holdings under 20 acres. Of 2589 holdings, 2505 are of 50 acres or less; 29 of between 50 and 100; 42 of from 100 to 300; 9 of from 300 to 500; and 4 of above 500. The woodland has been largely increased since 1872. The live stock in the county at different dates is shown in the following table :—
Industries, Communications, etc. —The county can hardly be said to have any industries except those already described under BRORA, but there is a well- known distillery at Clynelish, and a woollen manufactory at Rogart. Cotton manufacture was at one time tried in the SE, but it failed, and the spinning of linen yarn from flax imported from the Baltic, in which there was once a trade worth £3000 a year, was ruined by Bonaparte’s continental system. Woollen stuffs were at one time manufactured for local supply, but the industry is gone. The manufacture of kelp, at one time extensive, was ruined here as elsewhere by the removal of the duty on barilla. HELMSDALE is one of the chief herring-fishing stations on the Moray Firth, and the salmon fishing in many of the rivers is of value and importance. There is good fishing ground off the N coast, but the difficulty of getting the fish to market prevents its being fully taken advantage of. At the beginning of the 19th century the county was without formed roads, but in 1811, under the Highland Road Act of 1803, the Parliamentary Commissioners completed the formation of a road along the E coast and through the centre, the former leading over the Ord into Caithness, and the latter to Tongue. There are now also good main lines of road from N to S by Strath Halladale and Strath Ullie, by Strath Naver and Bagaisteach. to Lairg, by Strath More and Bagaisteach from Eriboll to Lairg; and from Lairg to the W coast by the hollow of Loch Shin, Loch Merkland, Loch More, and Loch Stack to Laxford, and thence to Rhiconich, Durness, and Cape Wrath; and there are also a number of good cross and district roads in the SE. The HIGHLAND RAILWAY enters the county at Invershin, runs up the hollow of the Shin to Lairg station, turns down Strath Fleet, skirts the coast from Golspie to Helmsdale, and then turns up Strath Ullie to Forsinard, where it passes into Caithness. In 1894 the County Council undertook the erection of new harbour works at Talmine (Kyle of Tongue), Skerray, and PORTSKERRA; and of pier works at Goispie and Embo. These works have now been completed with the aid of government grants. The county town and only royal burgh is Dornoch; villages with more than 500 inhabitants are Brora, Goispie, East Helmsdale, and West Helmsdale; and smaller villages are Armadale, Backies, Bonar-Bridge, Clashnessie, Durness, Embo, Farr, Inver, Kinlochbervie, Kirkiboll, Lairg, Melness, Melvich, Port Gower, Scourie, Skianid, Strathy, Tongue, and Torrisdale. The chief residences are Dunrobin Castle, Achany, Balnakiel, Creich House, Culgower, Dornoch House, Embo, Eriboll House, Inverbrora, Kirtomy, Ospisdale, Rhives, Rosehall, Scourie House, Tongue House. The principal proprietor is the Duke of Sutherland. The civil county comprehends the thirteen entire quoad civilia parishes of Assynt, Clyne, Creich, Dornoch, Durness, Eddrachillis, Farr, Golspie, Kildonan, Laing, Loth, Rogart, and Tongue. The quoad sacra parishes of Stoer, Kinlochbervie, and Strathy are also included. They are all included in the presbyteries of DORNOCH and TONGUE. Service is conducted in Gaelic in all the churches, of which there are in the county 17 in connection with the Established Church, and 16 in connection with. the Free Church. In the year ending September, 1895, there were in the county 44 schools (43 public), which, with accommodation for 4497 pupils, had 356 on the rolls, and an average attendance of 2764. Sutherlandshire, with a parliamentary constituency of 2530 in 1896, returns a member to serve in parliament, and Dornoch being included in the Wick burghs, has a share of another. It is governed by a lord - lieutenant and high sheriff, a vice-lieutenant, 8 deputy-lieutenants, and 53 justices of the peace. It forms a division of the sheriffdom of Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland, with a resident sheriff-substitute at Dornoch. Ordinary and small-debt sheriff courts are held at Dornoch every Tuesday during session, and small-debt circuit courts are held three times a year, in May, July, and October at Helmsdale for the parishes of Loth, Clyne, and Kildonan; at Tongue for the parishes of Tongue and Farr, with the exception of Strathy; at Melvich, quoad sacra parish of Strathy, for the parish of Farr; at Scourio (in May only) for the parishes of Eddrachillis and Durness; and at Lochinver (in October) for the parish of Assynt. Justice of peace courts are held at Dornoch on the first Tuesday of every month; at Golspie on the second Tuesdays of February, April, June, and October; at Brora on the Wednesdays after these Tuesdays; and at Helmsdale on the Thursdays after. The County Council is composed of 20 members, comprising 19 for as many electoral divisions and 1 for the burgh of Dornoch. The police force consists of 17 men (1 to every 1286 of the population), under a chief constable with a salary of £220 a year. The prison at Dornoch was discontinued in 1880. The average number of registered poor in 1895 was 746, with 219 dependants. All the parishes are assessed, and they unite to form a poor-law combination with a poor-house at Bonar-Bridge. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 61 per cent., and the death-rate is about 174. Markets are held at Dornoch, Clashmore, Farr, Golspie, Helmsdale, Inchnadamff, and Kyle of Sutherland. There are artillery and rifle volunteers connected with the county. Valuation (1674) £2266, (1815) £33,878, (1860) £52,379, (1870) £62,629, (1880) £96,273, (1885) £99,124, (1896) £94,692, inclusive of railway. Pop. of registration county (1871) 22,298, (1881) 22,376, (1891) 21,003; of civil county (1801) 2.3,117, (1811) 23,629, (1821) 23,840, (1831) 25,518, (1841) 24,782, (1851) 25,793, (1861) 25,246, (1871) 24,317, (1881) 23,370, (1891) 21,890, of whom 10,395 were males and 11,501 were females. These were distributed into 5109 families occupying 4713 houses, with 18,570 rooms, an average of 1·15 persons to each room. Of the 21,896 inhabitants, 383 males and 113 females were connected with the civil or military services or with professions, 49 men and 1044 women were domestic servants, 303 men and 5 women were connected with commerce, 4428 men and 670 women were connected with agriculture and fishing, and 1516 men and 243 women were engaged in industrial occupations. Of those engaged in agriculture and fishing 3037 men and 650 women were employed in farming alone, while there were 2260 boys and 2287 girls of school age.
The territory now forming the county of Sutherland was held by the Scandinavians along with Caithness, but not so firmly nor so long, one result being that far more Celtic placenames have survived in Sutherland. The antiquities—the most important of which are the numerous Pictish towers or brochs—and also the events of historical importance, will be found noticed in connecction with the parishes. After the North passed finally into the hands of the Scottish kings, the district became a thanedom, and was granted in the end of the 12th century to Hugh Freskin, son of that Freskin de Moravia who had obtained a grant of the lands of Duffus from King David I. Hugh’s son William was created Earl of Sutherland by King Alexander II. about 1228, and the title descended in the direct male line till the death of John, the ninth earl, in 1514. He was succeeded by his sister, who was married to the second son of the Earl of Huntly, and her husband, becoming Earl of Sutherland in right of his wife, was the founder of a new line of earls who were Gordons. In 1766 this line again ended in an heiress, who in 1785 married George Granville Leveson Gower, second Marquess of Stafford, who was created Duke of Sutherland in 1833. The Duchess- Countess, who died in 1839, was succeeded by her son, who died in 1861. His grandson, Cromartie Sutherland Loveson Gower (b. 1851; suc. 1892), is the present and fourth Duke. The seats are DUNROBIN Castle and Tongue House.
See James Macdonald, ‘On the Agriculture of Sutherland,’ in Trans. Highl. and Ag. Soc. (1880); C. W. G. St John, A Tour in Sutherlandshire (2 vols. 1819; new ed. 1884); Sir Robert Gordon, Genealogical History the Earldom of Sutherland (1813); A. Young, Angler’s and Sketcher’s Guide to Sutherland (1880); Bishop Pococke’s Tour in 1760 in Sutherland and Caithness (1888); and J. E. Edwards Moss’s Season in Sutherland (1888).