George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

The Sutherland Papers: acquired in 1980

One of the National Library of Scotland's largest manuscript collections shows the growth of a large landed estate at the time of the Highland Clearances.

The Sutherland Papers include early 13th-century charters, as well as family, estate, legal and financial records of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland to the death of the 2nd Duke in 1861. Deposited at the Library in 1980, the collection is contained in over 400 boxes and nearly 500 bound volumes.

Historically a Clan Macleod homeland, the parish of Assynt was incorporated into the expanding possessions of the Earldom of Sutherland in 1757. John Home's Survey of Assynt in 1774 has 16 beautiful hand-drawn plans of farms, with detailed textual descriptions. It laid the basis for the agricultural reorganisation of this poor and inhospitable country, to increase export of black cattle and to improve fishing.

Our image is a detail from the 'Plan of the Farms of Knockneach [Cnoc nan Each], Culach [Culag] and Inverchirkag [Inverkirkaig]', which was part of Home's survey. The plan shows the coast at Loch Inver before its development as a fishing harbour. You can see the full map, as a zoom-and-pan image, in our online maps collection.

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