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is 28,767127 acres, of which 368-809 are water, 329 '304
are foreshore, and 20'207 are tidal water, while 6860'073
acres are in a detached portion of the parish 4£ miles SW
of the main portion, and running 5J miles SW from the
S end of the Dorery Hills, with an average breadth of
1-4 mile. The whole surface of the parish is considerably
above sea-level, rising from the sea in the N in sheer
cliffs, with an average height of over 200 feet, or in high
steep banks. From these a moory plateau passes
southward by Brims Hill (300), Holburn Hill (306),
Hill of Forss (400), and Cairnmore Hillock (439), and
then undulates towards the river Thurso, which has
high steep banks on both sides. To the E of the river
there is again a rise to Duncan's Hill (216) and Sordale
Hill (300), the last in the extreme SE of the parish, and
with Buckies Hill (310) to the "VV on the opposite side of
the river. About half the whole area is under tillage,
but the greater part of the soil is poor, and of the other
half a considerable moiety is barren heathland. The
coast, from near the NW corner of the parish at Brims
Ness, has a general N and S direction for 4J miles to
Holburn Head, whence it turns southward to Scrabster
lighthouse, then curves WSW to Scrabster itself, and
thence SE, E, and NE to Clardon Head, forming by
this sweep Thtjkso Bay,* the portion of which to the
W is the well-known anchorage of Scrabster Roads. The
Bay is 2| miles wide across the entrance from Holburn
Head east-south-eastward to Clardon Head, and 1J mile
deep west-south-westward, at right angles to this line,
to the extreme S at the town of Thurso. To the E of
Clardon Head is Mdrkle Bay. The rocks of the parish
are fissile beds belonging to the Old Red Sandstone
system, some of which, at Weydale, Forss, and else-
where, are quarried for the Caithness flags or Caithness
pavement, so well known for its smooth surface and its
durability. Many of the beds are highly fossiliferous,
and those in the neighbourhood of the town of Thurso
yielded the fine specimens of Asterolepis now in the Hugh
Miller and John Miller Collections in the Industrial
Museum at Edinburgh. One thin bed, a short distance
W of Holburn Head, contains the scarce little crustacean,
Estheria membranacea. The drainage is carried off by
the river Thurso, which, after tracing part of the south-
western boundary, as already described, has a course of
5 miles through the parish, till it falls into the S corner
of inner Thurso Bay. The only lake of any size is Loch
Cailam or Chaluim (5x4 furl. ; 435 feet) in the de-
tached portion of the parish. The mansions are Forss
House, Scrabster House, and Thueso Castle. The
last, to the E of the mouth of the river Thurso, is a
large and rather staring structure of 1872-78, in a
somewhat poor variety of the Baronial style. The
height of its main tower is 147 feet. Its predecessor,
erected in 1660 by George, Earl of Caithness, was the
birthplace and residence of the famous Sir John Sinclair
(1754-1835), to whom Scotland owes the Old Statistical
Account, and also of his daughter, Miss Catherine
Sinclair (1801-64). His grandson, Sir John-George-
Tollemache Sinclair of Ulbster, third Bart, since 1786
(b. 1825 ; sue. 1868), has been Liberal member for
Caithness since 1869, and holds 78,053 acres in the
shire, valued at £14,212 per annum. A short distance
E of the castle is Harold's Tower, erected by Sir John
Sinclair to mark the supposed grave of Harald, grandson
of Rcignvald, who was defeated by Harald Maddadson in
this neighbourhood in 1196. Near the centre of Scrabster
Bay are the ruined remains of the old castle of the
Bishops of Caithness, occupying the site of the ' borg '
which Harald Maddadson destroyed when he captured
Bishop John of Caithness and the principal men of
the district in 1201. The neighbourhood was also the
scene of an earlier battle in 1040, when Moddan, nephew
of King Duncan, was surprised and slain in or about the
* The name is sometimes more widely applied to the whole
sweep bounded on the NW by Holburn Head and on the E by
Dunnet Head; and embracing on the SE the great sweep of
Dunnet Eay, This opening measures 7 miles across the mouth
from Holburn Head NE to Dunnet Head, 7i from Dunnet Head
SW to the town of Thurso, and 7 from Holburn Head E by S to
Dunnet Sands.
town by Thorkell Fostri and his Norsemen, and there-
after Thorkell's victorious army proceeded to join
Thorfinn and take part in the great battle in Moray
that preceded Duncan's death. There are some traces
of a camp at Holburn Head, and remains of Picts'
houses or weems at Sordale, Balliemore, Cairnmore,
Scrabster Hill, and elsewhere. A little to the W of
Holburn Head is a small obelisk called Slater's Monu-
ment, erected in memory of Captain M. A. Slater of the
Coast Survey, who is supposed to have been thrown
from his horse over the cliff close at hand. The parish
is in the presbytery of Caithness and the synod of
Sutherland and Caithness, and the living is worth £433-
a year. The churches are noticed in connection with
the town. Seven schools, with total accommodation
for 1082 pupils, had (18S4) an average attendance of
622, and grants amounting to £534. Thurso unites
with Bower, Cannisbay, Dunnet, Halkirk, Olrig, Reay,
and Watten to form Thurso poor-law combination, with a
poorhouse having accommodation for 149 inmates. The
cemetery is on a high bank overlooking the river Thurso,,
fully § mile S of the town. It contains a monument
to Robert Dick (1811-66), the famous scientific baker
of Thurso, whose story has been told by Dr Smiles in
Robert Dick, Geologist and Botanist (1878). The George-
mas and Thurso branch of the Highland Railway
passes NW through the parish to the town, and near
it are two main roads from Wick to Thurso. Another
road goes westward to Reay, and there are a number of
good district roads. The principal proprietor is Sir
J. G. T. Sinclair, Bart., of Ulbster, and 5 others hold
each an annual value of £500 or upwards, 6 hold each
between £500 and £100, 16 hold each between £100
and £50, and there are a considerable number with
smaller amounts. Valuation (1860) £14,740, (1885)
£26,707, 15s., including £918 for the railway. Pop-
(1801) 3628, (1831) 4679, (1861) 5561, (1871) 5754,.
(1881) 6217, of whom 2939 were males and 3278 females,
while 4026 were in the police burgh. Houses (1881)
1418.— Ord. Sur., shs. 116, 115, 1878.
The Kiver Thurso rises near the extreme SW end
of the parish of Halkirk among the hills that there
form the boundary between Sutherland and Caithness,
and flows first NE, and then N, through the centre of
the parish of Halkirk, and thereafter near the centre of
the parish of Thurso to the sea at the S side of Thurso'
Bay. The whole length of the course is about 27 miles,
of which 19J are in Halkirk and 7J in Thurso. The
hollow through which it flows in the upper part of its
course from SW to NE is called Strath More, and
near the centre of it is Loch More. At the point where
the stream turns N it receives from Strath Bheag a
tributary which drains the northern part of the parish
of Latheron, and 5J miles farther down another joins
it from the W, from Loch Calder. The other affluents
are neither numerous nor important. The fishing is.
good, particularly in early spring. There is almost
no wood along its course, but the high banks between
which the river often runs are by no means devoid of
beauty. The boulder clay along them contains at
several points comminuted shells.
The Town of Thurso stands on the W bank of the
river at the mouth, and has a station at the northern
terminus of the Sutherland and Caithness section (1874)
of the Highland railway. It is by rail 20| miles NW of
Wick, 154 NNE of Inverness, and 298 N of Perth.
By sea it is 25 miles SSW of Stromness, and 30J SW
of Scapa pier, and by road 21 miles from Wick and 44-
ENE of Tongue. It seems to have become an important
resort of the Norsemen at a very early date, and it
soon became the great centre of trade between Scot-
land and Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In 1633 it
was created a burgh of barony, a status which it still
holds, though it is now also a police burgh, the General
Police and Improvement Act having been adopted.
The superior is Sir J. G. T. Sinclair of Ulbster. _ For
nearly two hundred years after 1633 it was practically
the county town of Caithness, the sheriff courts being
held and all the ordinary law business of the county

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