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Latheron

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Latheron, a coast village and parish of S Caithness. The village of Latheron, Janetstown, or Latheronwheel, stands near the mouth of Latheronwheel Burn, 18¼ miles SW of Wick and 19 NE of Helmsdale station. It has an hotel and a post office under Wick, with money order and savings' bank departments. Other fishing villages in the parish, with their distance from Latheron, are Berriedale (9 miles SSW), Dunbeath (31/8 SW), Forse (2½ ENE), Lybster (5 ENE), and Clyth (7 ENE), all of them being noticed separately.

The parish is bounded N by Watten and Wick, SE by the German Ocean, SW and W by Kildonan in Sutherland, and NW by Halkirk. Its utmost length, from NE to S W, is 213/8 miles; its breadth varies between 17/8 and 14¾ miles; and its land area is 186¾ square miles or 119,539 acres. The coast, which all along-for 25¼ miles-is followed pretty closely by the high-road to Wick, rises so steeply from the sea that the road has an altitude of 700 feet above sea-level at the Ord of Caithness, 500 beyond Berriedale, 254 beyond Dunbeath, 262 beyond Latheron, and 252 beyond Clyth. It projects no prominent headland, and is indented only by tiny inlets; but its lofty cliffs are pierced, at highwater mark, by numerous caves, the haunts of seals, and some of them 300 to 360 feet long. Of several streams that drain the interior to the sea, the largest are Langwell Water (running 121/8 miles east-by-southward to Berriedale Water, 3 furlongs above its mouth), Berriedale Water (21¾ miles east-south-eastward), Dunbeath Water (14½ miles east-by-southward), and Reisgill Burn (4¾ miles south-by-eastward); whilst of thirteen lakes the principal-all near the Halkirk border-are Lochs Stemster (2¾ x 2 furl.; 469 feet), Rangag (5½ x 2½ furl.; 375 feet), Ruard (8½ x 3 furl.; 495 feet), and Dubh (4¾ x 1¾ furl.; 698 feet). Chief elevations are the *Ord of Caithness (1078 feet), Braigh na h-Eaglaise (1387), and *Scalabsdale (1819), to the S of Langwell Water; Scaraben (2054), Morven (2313), and the *Knockfin Heights (1416), between Langwell and Berriedale Waters; Beinn Choireach (891), and Orschaige Hill (969), between Berriedale and Dunbeath Waters; and Cnocan Con na Craige (867), Coire na Beinne (740), and *Cnoc an Earranaiche (693), to the N of Dunbeath Water-where asterisks mark those summits that culminate on the confines of the parish. Thus the interior is charmingly diversified, especially in the SW, presenting a continued succession of vale and hill, of glen and mountain, sometimes in rapid alternation, and generally with bold features in striking contrast to the tame flat aspect of most other parts of the county. The south-western district, indeed, is everywhere upland, with mountains nearly as lofty, and glens quite as picturesque, as many of those most famous in the Highlands. -The rocks are variously granite, clay flagstone, Old Red sandstone, and red sandstone conglomerate; and the soil of the arable lands is of various quality, but mostly shallow, sharp, and gravelly, in many parts encumbered with boulders. In spite of extensive reclamations within recent years, less than a twelfth of the entire area is in tillage; about 600 acres are under wood, chiefly along the romantic braes of Langwell and Berriedale Waters; and the rest is sheepwalk, deer-forest, and heathy waste. The maritime crofters depend in great measure on the harvest of the sea; and the following are the fishing stations, with the number of their boats and fishermen: -Berriedale (3; 12), Dunbeath (60; 115), Latheronwheel (33; 86), Forse (44; 62), Lybster (129; 200), Clyth (55; 90): total (324; 565). Antiquities are the ruins or sites of 'Picts' houses,' standing stones, and the castles of up Berriedale, Achastle, Knockiunan, Latheron, Forse, Swiney, and Clyth, all situated on the coast, chiefly on the brink of rocky cliffs overhanging the sea. Sir John Sinclair (1754-1835), the distinguished writer on Scottish agriculture and statistics, resided much on the Langwell estate, and commenced here some of his earliest improvements; and at Badreisky, near Forse, died Peter or 'Luckie' Sutherland (17681880). Latheronwheel House, 3 miles NNE of Dunbeath, is a seat of Michael Stocks, Esq. (b. 1825), who holds 13,600 acres in the shire, valued at £1744 per annum. Other mansions. noticed separately, are Dunbeath Castle, Forse House, Langwell, and Sriney House; and, in all, 8 proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 1 of between £100 and £500, 4 of from £50 to £100, and 11 of from £20 to £50. Giving off Berriedale quoad sacra parish, Latheron is in the presbytery of Caithness and synod of Sutherland and Caithness; the living is worth £363. The parish church was built in 1734, and, as repaired and enlarged in 1822, contains about 900 sittings. Lybster chapel of ease was built in 1836, and contains 805 sittings; and there are Free churches of Latheron, Berriedale, Lybster, and Bruan. Twelve schools, with total accommodation for 1568 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 637, and grants amounting to £587, 14s. 10d. Valuation (1860) £15,429, (1883) £20,238, 9s. Pop. (1801) 3612, (1831) 7020, (1861) 8571, (1871) 7400, (1881) 6675, of whom 1944 were Gaelic-speaking, whilst 5489 belonged to Latheron and 1186 to Berriedale ecclesiastical parish.—Ord. Sur., shs. 110, 109, 1877-78.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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