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Criech, Sutherland

Historical Description

CRIECH, a parish, in the county of SUTHERLAND, 11½ miles (W. N. W.) from Tain; containing, with the village of Donar, 2582 inhabitants. This place is famed for a contest which happened in the eleventh or twelfth century between the Scots and the Danes, at Druimleah, near Bonar-Bridge, whence the invaders, after being completely routed, retired to their ships at Portnacoulter, at present called the Meikle Ferry. It is an extensive parish, in length about forty miles, and six miles in average breadth, and contains about 150,000 acres. The general appearance of the surface is hilly, approximating in many parts to the character of a mountainous district, and a small proportion only of its area is under cultivation, the rest being covered with natural wood and heath. At Ledmore is a fine oak-wood of about 150 acres; and in several other parts is a considerable quantity of natural wood, as well as of plantations. A large extent of ground on the estates of Skibo and Pulrossie was planted with fir and larch about forty or fifty years ago, to which about 1500 acres have been added by the present proprietor, with an intermixture of oak and other forest-trees. Other plantations have been made within the last few years, and the extent of the whole of them throughout the parish is now calculated at 2500 acres. The rivers are, the Shin, the Oykell, a considerable stream, and the Cassley: the two last join at the southern extremity, and form the Firth of Dornoch; they all contain salmon, which are regularly taken, and sturgeons are also sometimes seen in the Shin. There are likewise several lakes, the most considerable of which are Migdol, Gour, and Elst, all abounding with small good-flavoured trout.

The prevailing SOIL, is the gravelly peaty kind usual in mountainous districts. At Pulrossie, Flode, Rosehall, and some other places near the Firth, there is an admixture of clay, and the hills in the vicinity of Rosehall form a fine natural pasture, and are covered with sheep. The largest corn-farm produces a rent of about £300 per annum, and there are half a dozen others returning from £50 to £200: the only sheep-farms are at Auchinduich and Inverchasly, and the breed on each is the Cheviot. Great improvements have been made within these few years, particularly on the two estates just named, consisting chiefly in the reclaiming of waste lands, in draining, and irrigation. The annual value of real property in the parish is £4811. There are two quarries of whinstone, but both very hard to work; and at Rosehall is a vein about five inches wide of fine-grained, solid, bluish-grey manganese, perfect and free from iron, but which, though valuable for its quality, is of too inconsiderable extent to repay the expense of working. A village and a cotton-manufactory were established at Spinningdale by Mr. Dempster, of Dunnichen, in the latter part of the last century; but the factory being destroyed by fire in 1809, the village has since fallen to decay. The neighbouring village of Bonar has, however, increased in extent and importance, especially since the erection of the great iron-bridge in 1812, and vessels of from thirty to sixty tons' burthen now trade to it, importing meal, coal, and lime, and exporting fir-props, wool, oak-bark, corn, and salmon. Newton is also a shipping-place for articles of the same kind.

For ecclesiastical purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Dornoch, synod of Sutherland and Caithness; patrons, the Crown and the Duke of Sutherland. The minister's stipend is £209, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £5 per annum. Criech church, a plain structure, built in 1790, is in good condition, and accommodates 500 persons with sittings. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. There is a parochial school, for which a new school-house has been built; the master has a salary of £30, with some small fees. The relics of antiquity comprise numerous tumuli, a vitrified fort on the summit of the Doune or Hill of Criech, and an obelisk near the church, measuring eight feet by four, erected, according to tradition, in memory of a Danish chief who fell near the spot. There are also various chalybeate springs in the parish.

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