Monday, 28 May 2012

Dunbeath-Land of her Fathers

Dunbeath lies in the sheltered strath of the eponymous river, about twenty miles south of Wick in Caithness. It is the birthplace of my late father-in-law, Alexander Sinclair, a son of the croft at Carroy, built on an old flood plain high above the current river level. The croft has been in the Sinclair family for over a hundred and fifty years, but has now been sold following the passing away of cousin James Sinclair. The house, pictured above, was built in 1927 replacing earlier more primitive thatched structures, still standing in the background.
The fireplace of the earlier house still displays the double mantle stone, inserted to gain easy access to the chimney for smoking meat or fish.
Layers of earlier history abound in the fields around, including the outlines of previous croft buildings and further back in time, the well preserved Iron Age broch just across the river. The much excavated and enigmatic 'Hill of Peace' site is also just across the river. Tantalising clues to its origins as an ecclesiastical centre have not been supported by the detailed archaeology. 
The old horse drawn plough still lies behind the croft and Croxspartan well runs with pure clear cold water on the edge of the croft. The water from this well is documented as having healing properties.
Dunbeath's most famous son is the between the wars novelist, Neil Gunn. Many of his books feature the village and strath and its characters. His most famous novel, The Silver Darlings, charts the impact of the development of the herring fishing on the life of such a highland village. Cousin Eric Farquhar is preparing a documentary piece on the croft and his ancestors who lived there.

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder, published by Willow Moon. e-book and paperback from all Amazon sites. Best paperback price at . Type in the ISBN 9781468055900.


  1. Fascinating, Alan. I bet your sad it's no longer in the family. But fabulous to have a past connection to such an inspiring place.


    1. Thanks Gilli
      We often visit the area. Its a truly inspiring place.