Sutherland, Scotland

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Scotland Project > Highlands and Islands Region > Sutherland County Team > Sutherland, Scotland


Sutherland, Scotland

The historic county of Sutherland is located in the northern part of Scotland, between Caithness to the east, and Ross to the south. It also reaches the Atlantic in the north and west. The county has some of the most majestic scenery in all of Scotland. The landscape is a mixture of towering sea cliffs, ancient mountains, and rolling meadows.

Sutherland’s name derives from the Norse word Sudrland, meaning South Land, which can cause some confusion among those who aren’t familiar with the area’s history. It was originally part of Norwegian Viking territory, under the rule of the jarl (the equivalent of an earl) of Orkney. From Orkney, Sutherland was in fact South Land. Much of the population today can be found along the coasts, in small coastal towns and villages.

Settlements in Sutherland

This list is not complete.

  • Achriesgill, Sutherland
  • Altnaharra, Sutherland
  • Armadale, Sutherland
  • Assynt, Sutherland
  • Bettyhill, Sutherland
  • Bonar Bridge, Sutherland
  • Brora, Sutherland
  • Clashmore, Sutherland
  • Dornoch
  • Drumbeg, Sutherland
  • Durness
  • Embo, Sutherland
  • Evelix, Sutherland
  • Farr
  • Golspie
  • Helmsdale, Sutherland
  • Inchnadampth, Sutherland
  • Invershin, Sutherland
  • Kildonan
  • Kinbrace, Sutherland
  • Kinlochbervie, Sutherland
  • Lairg
  • Lochinver, Sutherland
  • Melvich, Sutherland
  • Portgower, Sutherland
  • Portskerra, Sutherland
  • Pulrossie, Sutherland
  • Rogart
  • Rosehall
  • Scourie, Sutherland
  • Skelbo, Sutherland
  • Skerray, Sutherland
  • Stoer, Sutherland
  • Strathy, Sutherland
  • Tongue

Parishes in Sutherland

Highland Clearances

Sutherland is well known for the Highland Clearances. In the 18th and 19th century, tenants were evicted from their homes and farms by the landowners to make room for large sheep farms. The Sutherland Estate, which made up about two-thirds of the county, has been recorded as the most extensive removal in the Highlands. These occurred in 1812, 1814, and again between 1819 and 1820. The population was resettled in coastal villages, however, being farmers and not fishermen, many voluntarily left Scotland altogether. Some went to Caithness, while the majority emigrated to Canada, the United States, or Australia.


The Imperial gazeteer of Scotland; or, Dictionary of Scottish topography

Edited by Rev. John Marius Wilson, Published 1857 by A. Fullarton & Co, Leath Walk, Edinburgh
Available to view online or download at the Internet Archive
Digital image donated in 2008 to the Internet Archive by University of Toronto, image production funded by Microsoft Corporation
Two volume set contains no visible notice of copyright
Sutherland Map from 771 facing page
1857 Map of Sutherland Shire. Red lines show parish boundaries. Index of Parishes in the image on the right side.

General Research Resources

  1. Detailed List of the Old Parochial Registers of Scotland - Downloadable pdf of the original inventory published in 1872 by the Scotland Register-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, from the National Records of Scotland. Identities at the individual parish level if baptism, marriage, or death records exist from years prior to 1855, and if records exist, then how thorough those records are. Possibly the single most valuable tool when researching pre-1855 genealogy in Scotland, because it identifies parishes with no records at all, or parishes with large record gaps before 1855.
  2. ScotlandsPeople is the official web site for searching the National Records of Scotland. Free registration, but many of the documents are pay per view or download.
  3. - 1855 Tombstone Inscriptions in Sutherland Burial Grounds, by A. S. Cowper and I. Ross, published by Scottish Genealogy Society,
  4. Book of Mackay, by Angus Mackay, M.A., Minister at Westerdale, Caithness. Published by Norman MacLeod, Edinburgh, 1906. Digital scan of a copy signed by the author. Printed in Wick. Applies equally to Sutherland and Caithness.
  5. Early sources of Scottish history, A.D. 500 to 1286, by Alan Orr Anderson (1879–1958), a Scottish historian - Volume I - Volume II
  6. Songs and poems in the Gaelic language by Rob Donn - Edited by Hew Morrison, published 1899, published edition from University of Toronto Library
  7. Songs and poems in the Gaelic language by Rob Donn - Edited by Hew Morrison, published 1899, pre-print edition with handwritten notes by Hew Morrison
  8. Historical Record of the 71st Regiment Highland Light Infantry - by Lieutenant Henry J. T. Hildyard, published 1876
  9. The History of the Reay Fencible Highland Regiment of Foot, or Mackay's Highlanders, 1794-1802 - by Captain I. H. Mackay Scobie, William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, 1914.

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Categories: Sutherland, Scotland