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Golspie

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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Golspie, a village and a parish on the E coast of Sutherland. The village, standing at the mouth of Golspie Burn, has a station on the Sutherland railway, 17 miles SW of Helmsdale, 26½ ENE of Bonar Bridge, and 84 ¼ N by E of Inverness. It ranks as a sub-port and a place of considerable trade, but consisted of only a few mean fisher huts, till, early in the present century, it began to undergo great change, and now it is one of the neatest and largest villages in the N of Scotland, comprising a wide street ¾ mile in length, with good substantial houses, many of them embellished with gardens. It has a post office, with money order, savings'bank, insurance, and telegraph departments, branches of the British Linen Co. and Aberdeen Town and County Banks, offices or agencies of 8 insurance companies, a commodious and picturesquely-situated hotel, a handsome memorial fountain of the late Duchess of Sutherland, a custom-house office, a public reading-room, and fairs on the Saturday of April, of May, and of October before Beauly. The parish church, at the NE end of the village, beside Golspie Burn, was built in 1738, and, as enlarged in 1751, contains 565 sittings. A Free church stands at the SW end, near the shore- Pop. (1841) 491, (1861) 876, (1871) 1074, (1881) 956.

Anciently called Culmailie, the parish contains also the hamlet of Backies and the village of Little Ferry, 3½ miles SSW of Golspie village, at the mouth of Loch Fleet, where the Duke of Sutherland has built a convenient pier, accessible at low water. It is bounded W by the Kinnauld section of Dornoch and by Rogart, N and NE by Clyne, SE by Dornoch Firth, and S and SW by Loch Fleet and the river Fleet, dividing it from Dornoch. Its greatest length, from ENE to WSW, is is 7½ miles; its utmost breadth, from NW to SE, is 6 ¼ miles; and its area is 21,125 ¼ acres, of which 768½ are foreshore, and 240½ water. The Fleet flows 2 miles east-south-eastward along the Dornoch border to the head of salt-water Loch Fleet, which, 3 ¼ miles long and from 1 ¼ furlong to 15/8. mile broad, opens beyond Little Ferry to Dornoch Firth; and to Loch Fleet, near Balblair, Culmailie Burn runs 4¾ miles south-eastward, rising at an altitude of 1000 feet, and passing through Loch Lundie (7 x 1½ furl.; 556 feet). Golspie Burn issues from Loch nan Corn (4½ x 3½ furl-; 1155 feet), near the northern border, and thence runs 5 ¼ miles south-eastward to the sea along Dunrobin Glen, which, flanked by mountains in its upper and middle reaches, expands in its lower into a beautiful vale. Three lakes besides those mentioned are Loch Unes (1½ x 1/3. furl-), on Ferry Links; Loch nan Caorach (2 x ¾ furl-), towards the middle of the parish; and isleted Lochan t-Salachaidh (5 x 11/3. furl.; 552 feet), on the Rogart border. Except for a flat triangular tract to the SE of the high road and the railway, the surface, almost all of it, is hilly or even mountainous, attaining 600 feet at Creag Mhor, 700 at Silver Rock, 902 at Aberscross Hill, 1256 at statuecrowned Ben-a-Bhragie, 1464 at Ben Lundie, 1220 at Cnoc na Gamha, 1239 at Cagar Feosaig, 1706 at Ben Horn, and 1326 at Meall Odhar, of which the three last culminate right on the Clyne border. The landward part of the parish consists of gneissose rocks dipping SE, overlaid unconformably by rocks belonging to the middle division of the Old Red sandstone, of which all the hills here mentioned are composed. Above these there lies a belt of Jurassic rocks, forming reefs exposed at low water, and extending from Lower Lias to Upper Middle below Dunrobin, and Lower Oolite sandstone (white) at thc eastern boundary of the parish. The soil on the arable lauds ranges from very light sand to medinm clay, the best and most genera; being loam with a slight admixture of clay. The parish is a better agricultural district than any in the county. extensive reclamations having been carried out since 1809, so that now above 2000 acres are regularly or occasionally in tillage, besides some 800 under wood. The coast to the NE of Golspie village is mostly rocky; to the SW, is low and sandy, fringed with links. Gillander's Cave is in the NE district, and Torquil's Cave in a hill above Dunrobin Castle. Very good red sandstone has been worked in two quarries, white sandstone in one, and coall also exists. The chief antiquities are remains of an ancient Caledonian stone circle, hut-circles, and graves, an eirde-house, vestiges of five Pictish towers, a richly carved stone, with cross, and ruins of a chapel. Dunrobin Castle has been noticed separately; and the Duke of Sutherland holds nearly all the parish. It is in the presbytery of Dornoch and synod of Sutherland and Caithness; the living is worth £281. The two public schools of Backies and Golspie, with respective accommodation for 68 and 260 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 32 and 134, and grants of £26, 4s. and £94, 18s. Valuation (1860) £4841, (1882) £6204, 13s-, plus £1366 for 10 ¼ miles of railway. Pop(1801) 1616, (1831) 1149, (1861) 1615, (1871) 1804, (1881) 1556, of whom 742 were Gaelic-speaking-Ord. Sur., sh. 103, 1878.

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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