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Clyne, Sutherland

Historical Description

CLYNE, a parish, in the county of SUTHERLAND, 6 miles (K. E.) from Golspie, containing, with the village of Brora, 1765 inhabitants. This parish is about twenty-four miles in length, from north-west to south-east, and from six to eight miles in breadth, comprising 65,000 acres. It is bounded on the south-east by the German Ocean. In the well-cultivated district along the coast the surface is tame, but in other parts greatly diversified, presenting the most prominent and characteristic features of Highland scenery. The glens and lakes, adorned with natural wood and plantations, as seen from the vicinity of Killean, which also commands a prospect of the abrupt precipices overhanging Loch Brora, and the lofty mountains of Ben-Clibrig, Ben-Ormin, and Ben-Horn, are among the finest portions of this secluded district. Beyond Strath-Brora, however, about nine miles from the coast, the general aspect of the scenery becomes bleak and heathy, with extensive tracts of moor and moss, intersected by numerous rivulets, and lofty ranges of hills. In general the coast is low and sandy, and marked by a ridge of sand hills, covered in the more abrupt parts with bent, and in the others with tolerably good pasture. The river Brora, the principal stream, is celebrated for salmon of a superior size and flavour, it has its source in the forest of Ben-Clibrig, and after a winding course of thirty miles within the parish, discharges itself into the sea at Brora. The largest sheet of water is Loch Brora, which is about four miles long, and varies from a quarter to half a mile in breadth: its banks are clothed with several clumps of natural wood, and extensive plantations of fir; and the bold and precipitous Carrol rock, with the mansion-house of Kilcalmkill, contributes to its interesting and beautiful scenery.

The principal part of the parish consists of high and irreclaimable hill-pasture, and is laid out in extensive sheep-walks; the sheep are pure Cheviots, to the breed of which great attention is paid, and the total number kept is nearly 11,000. The land in tillage is supposed to comprehend no more than about 1400 acres, of which 300 acres are of a sandy loam, forming an excellent turnip soil, and 1100 acres a poor sharp gravel, and unfit for the production of wheat. Between 200 and 300 acres are under plantation. The annual value of real property in the parish is £2910. The rocks consist chiefly of sandstone, two quarries of which are wrought to a considerable extent; the material found in one of these is remarkably hard, compact and durable, and contains numerous petrifactions of trees, fishes, and shells, which attract the notice of scientific tourists. Coal was wrought near the mouth of the river Brora so far back as 1573, and at several subsequent periods, but the works were discontinued many years ago. The late Duke of Sutherland sank a new pit, and erected the necessary buildings, at a cost of £16,000, and the coal was conveyed to the harbour on a tramroad 800 yards long. Four large salt-pans were also erected, from which salt of a very superior quality was obtained. On the Brora is a salmon-fishery, rented at £300 per annum; and there are several boats regularly employed in the season in the herring-fishery, which supply the neighbourhood with all the ordinary kinds of fish at a very cheap rate.

Ecclesiastically the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dornoch and synod of Sutherland and Caithness; patron, the Duke of Sutherland, who is proprietor of the whole parish. The stipend is £144. 15. 7.; and there is a handsome and commodious manse, with a glebe valued at £12 per annum. Clyne church, a plain structure, was built about the year 1770; it was repaired and enlarged about 1827, and will accommodate nearly 1000 persons with sittings. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. There is a parochial school, where the ordinary branches of education are taught; the master has the maximum salary, a house and garden, and a small sum from fees. There is an Assembly's school in the village of Brora: two-thirds of the teacher's salary are paid by the Duke of Sutherland. The chief relic of antiquity is the celebrated Pictish tower called "Castle Cole", which is the most entire specimen of this kind of tower in the country, excepting that of Dornadilla, in the parish of Durness. It is protected on three sides by the river, and has on the other side a precipice of seventy feet; the structure is oblong in form, with walls eleven feet thick, without lime or mortar, and appears to have been a place of great strength.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis