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shelter themselves. The fishermen, to get to the boats, descend a huge precipice, by winding steps on the side of the rock, and not unfrequently some lives are lost. To secure their boats from being dashed against the rocks, particularly in storms, the fishermen hang up their yawls by ropes, on hooks fixed in the face of the rock, above high-water mark, where they are suspended till the weather serves for sailing. At one of these creeks, called Faligoe, two miles from Mid Clyth, is a beautiful cascade.

At Ulbster, three miles beyond Mid Clyth, is a rock called Lechan Ore, a name which, according to tradition, it obtained from the following circumstance: Gunn of Clyth, a gentleman of Caithness, going over to Denmark, prevailed on a Danish princess to marry him. In returning home with the lady and attendants, the vessel was wrecked upon the rock, and every soul perished. A pot full of gold being found on the rock, it attained the name of lechan ore, or golden flags. The body of the princess was thrown on the shore, and buried at Ulbster; and the same stone which is said to cover her grave, is still extant, and has some hieroglyphic characters, much obliterated by time.

History makes mention of bloody encounters in the parish of Latherone, between the Caithness men, and Hugo Freskin, earl of Sutherland; and likewise of many conflicts between the two countries in after times. Torfaeus says, that King William the lion marched into Caithness with a great army,. and encamped at Ousdales, or Eskensdale. This expedition of the king was to drive out wicked earl Harold, the elder, who had slain Harold the younger. The king seized Caithness as a conquest, upon which earl Harold submitted himself to him.

OLRICK parish extends westward along the shore from Dunnet; it is four miles long and two broad, and contains 215 houses, and 1127 inhabitants, viz. 532 males, and 595 females, of whom 332 were returned

returned as being employed in agriculture, and 66 in trade and manufacture. The sea-coast is rugged and shelving, affording a safe harbour at Dunnet and Muscle Bay. The parish in general is fertile, and in a high state of cultivation.

Castlehill, the family seat of Trail of Hobbester, with its rising plantations on the windings of a brook, is an elegant modern structure, in a very beautiful situation.

In the southern part is lake Durran, about three miles in circumferance: there are here several subterraneous buildings, called Pictish houses, and on the summit of the hill of Olrick are the vestiges of a watch


The parish of REAY Spreads westward from the confines of Halkirk and Thurso, to the parish of Far, in Sutherland: it is seventeen miles in length, and nine in breadth, containing 442 houses, and 2406 inhabitants, viz. 1038 males, and 1368 females, of which number 1586 were returned as being chiefly employed in agriculture, and 69 in trade and manufacture.

This parish is watered by the rivers Halladale and Forse, which afford salmon, the sea great variety of fish, and the land is well stocked with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep.

The family seats of Sandside and Bighouse are well situated, and the grounds around are much improved.

Some part of this parish lies in the shire of Sutherland, but the greater portion is in this county: that part situated in Sutherland is called Strath-Halladale, from Halladha, earl of Orkney, a Norwegian, who was slain in battle in the beginning of the tenth century. The field of battle is full of small cairns, or heaps of stones. The commander in chief and principal warriors slain in that action are buried in a place apart from the field of battle: the tradition is, that Halladha is buried in a spot enclosed with a circular trench, ten or twelve feet wide, and that his sword lies by his side. There was a stone erected in the middle


of this circle, part of which still remains. Near the field of battle stands a little town, called Dal Halladla, or Halladha's field. A river runs through StrathHalladale, which is rather pasture-ground on the sides of it, for the eleven miles it is inhabited.

The boundary between Sutherland and Caithness, to the north, is called Drim Hallistin. That part of the parish of Reay, in the shire of Caithness, is excellent corn ground through the whole of it. It appears that many battles have been fought in it in former times, but there is no tradition concerning them. In later times some bloody skirmishes happened between M'Kay, of Strathnaver, and Keith, earl marischal; and also between the Caithness and Strathnaver people.

The following chapels stood in this parish formerly: St. Mary's, at Lybster, St. Maguus's, at Shebsher, one at Shail, another at Baillie, and a third in Shurerie'; besides the parish kirk dedicated to St. Colman, at Reay. There is an old castle at Dunreay.

It appears that the Saxons, in the fifth century, plagued this country, and it is probable that Thurso, in this county, is so called from Horsa, the Saxon general, who landed in the river of Thurso, or InverHorsa, the landing-place of Horsa; and when the Saxons plundered Caithness, it seems they had a bloody conflict with the natives. In this parish there is a place called Tout Horsa, or Horsa's grave, where they say that some great warrior was slain and buried; and in the place is a great stone erected. Probably he was one of Horsa's captains.

The parish of THURSO extends westward from Olrick, upon the shore of the ocean: an open bay. receives the river Thurso, into which the tide flows but a little way. The parish contains 786 houses, and 3628 inhabitants, viz. 1598 males, and 2030 females, of whom 1044 were returned as being employed chiefly in agriculture, and 572 in trade and manufacture. Thurso, or Inver-Aorsa, is so called from the Saxon


general: it is a town of an old date, for we find men◄ tion made of it as a populous place in the eleventh century, and from it the parish is denominated. It is a royal burgh and a sea-port, with a custom-house collector, comptroller, land-surveyor, &c. but the duties are not sufficient one year with another, to defray the expences. Thurso unites with Wick, &c. in sending a member to parliament, and has a weekly market on Fridays.

The coasting trade is pretty considerable, and employs about 11,500 tons of shipping, including the repeated voyages of different vessels. The goods sent out are corn, grain, fish, wool, linen yarn, kelp, salt provisions, whiskey, &c. Goods imported or brought in coastwise, are flax, salt, wood, wines, coals, limes, haberdashery, and shop goods.

The foreign trade is very inconsiderable, especially in war time. There are belonging to the town and port, about sixteen decked vessels, all employed in the coasting trade and the herring fishery. The harbour admits vessels of ten feet draught of water, at stream tides, and after getting over the bar, they lie in perfect safety; but for want of a pier, they can only load and unload at low water.

Near Thurso is Thurso East, the seat of Sir John Sinclair, where is to be seen the Arch, or Thurso Castle, as it is sometimes called, built in the year 1665, and reckoned the most ornamental piece of architecture in the north: it has been repaired of late years.

The earldom of Caithness was formerly possessed by a family named Harold: one of these warriors was killed in the engagement of Thurso, and the stones erected over his grave were well known by tradition; and within a few years, at the request of the Rev. Mr. Pope, minister of Reay, a new monument has been erected by Sir John Sinclair, in the form of an ancient castle or fortress.

The bishop of Caithness had a strong castle at Scrabster,


Scrabster, near Thurso, called the castle of Burnside, built in the thirteenth century, by Gilbert Murray, bishop of Caithness: the ruins are still extant. Another castle stood at Ornly, near Thurso, which is demolished. At Murkil, to the east of Thurso, there were great buildings of old; it was a seat of one of the earls of Caithness, and at Hamer he had a modern house. An old tower, still extant, stands at Brines, three miles west from Thurso.

There were formerly several chapels and places of worship in this parish: one stood at Cross Kirk, one at Brines, another at Gwie, and a small chapel stood in the parks of Thurso East, where Harold the younger was buried. The church of Thurso was the bishop's chapel, and when he resided in Caithness, he often preached there. I was told (says Mr. Pennant) by the late earl of Caithness, that there was a nunnery in antient times near his seat at Murkil. The country people call the place the Glosters, but no vestige of the building is extant, excepting the remains of the garden wall, which inclosed a rich spot of ground. Torfoeus says, that a queen of Norway lived some time at Murkil. He relates that Harold the bloody, son to Harold the fair, was banished for his cruelty, with his queen, and that his brother Hacon succeeded to the throne; but after Harold the bloody was slain in England, his queen returned to Orkney, and resided some time at Murkil, in Caithness.

The same author mentions great battles having been fought in this parish; one in the eleventh century, on the plains of Thurso East, between Thorfinnus, earl of Orkney, and one Karl or Charles, whom he calls king of Scotland, or a general of the Scots army. Another bloody battle at Claredon, near Thurso East, between the earls Harold the elder and younger.

The bishop of Caithness, since the reformation, lived in a small house at Scrabster, which is still extant, and belongs to the crown. He had a grass room in the highlands, called Dorary, where stood a chapel,


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