Eystein II of Norway
Eystein Haraldsson. He ruled as co-ruler with Inge Haraldsson and Sigurd Munn, he was killed in the power-struggle against his brother, Inge, in an early stage of the civil war era in Norway. Eystein was born in Scotland, the son of Harald Gille, king of Norway from 1130 to 1136, a woman named Bjaðǫk. Harald was born and raised in Ireland or Scotland, Eystein was born there; when Harald went to Norway in 1127 to press his claim to royal inheritance, Eystein did not go with him. However, Harald let it be known. Eystein first appears in the sagas in 1142, when several Norwegian lendmenn travelled west and fetched him back to Norway from Scotland, his mother came with him to Norway. There, he was recognised as king, given a share of the kingdom with his younger brothers; the division of the kingdom does not seem to have been territorial, all brothers seem to have held equal regal status over all parts of the country. This period of their reign saw the establishment of an independent Norwegian Archiepiscopacy in Nidaros in 1152.
The sagas Heimskringla and Orkneyinga saga relates that at some point in the early 1150s, king Eystein went on a campaign to Scotland and England. He captured Harald Maddadson, earl of Orkney in Caithness, forced him to ransom himself for a considerable sum, he proceeded to loot along the Scottish and English coast, attacking Aberdeen and Whitby, in a voyage reminiscent of the earlier viking expeditions. According to the sagas, relations between the three brothers were peaceful as long as the two younger brothers' guardians were alive, but as the younger brothers grew up, tensions arose. In 1155, a meeting between the brothers in Bergen resulted in fighting breaking out between the men of king Inge and king Sigurd, in which king Sigurd was killed. King Eystein was late in arriving for the meeting, only approached the city after Sigurd was dead. An uneasy settlement was reached between Eystein; the reasons for the fighting in Bergen remain disputed. According to the sagas and Sigurd had plotted to strip Inge of his royal title and divide his share of the kingdom between them.
Some modern historians doubt this version, seeing it as Inge’s excuse for his own aggressive actions. In any event, peace between Inge and Eystein did not hold for long after the events of 1155. In 1157, both sides gathered their forces for a confrontation. Inge’s forces outnumbered Eystein’s, when they met, on the west coast near Moster, Eystein’s forces melted away. Eystein was forced to flee, over land to Viken. Abandoned by his own men, he was caught, somewhere in the area of present-day Bohuslän, killed by his captors. Whether or not king Inge ordered. Eystein's body was buried in the church of Foss in Tunge Hundred. According to Heimskringla, the local population of the area started worshipping Eystein as a saint. After Eystein's death, his supporters rallied around the young Haakon the Broadshouldered, Sigurd Munn's son, Eystein's nephew, they continued the war against king Inge, in an early stage of the so-called civil war era, to last on and off until 1240. The sagas draw a rather negative picture of both Eystein and his brother Sigurd choosing to portray Inge as the just ruler of the three brothers.
Heimskringla states of Eystein: "King Eystein was dark and dingy in complexion, of middle height, a prudent able man. Eystein was married to a Norwegian gentlewoman, his bastard son Eystein Meyla was proclaimed king by the Birkebeiner party in 1176, but was defeated and killed the year after. The main sources to Eystein’s reign are the kings’ sagas Heimskringla, Morkinskinna and Ágrip; the three former base at least part of their account on the older saga Hryggjarstykki, written some time between 1150 and 1170, was thus a near-contemporary source. This saga. Matthew James Driscoll. Agrip Af Noregskonungasogum. Viking Society for Northern Research. ISBN 0-903521-27-X Kari Ellen Gade & Theodore Murdock Andersson. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3694-X Alison Finlay. Fagrskinna, a Catalogue of the Kings of Norway. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-13172-8 Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-73061-6
Caithness is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area of Scotland. Caithness has a land boundary with the historic county of Sutherland and is otherwise bounded by sea; the land boundary follows a watershed and is crossed by two roads, the A9 and the A836, one railway, the Far North Line. Across the Pentland Firth ferries link Caithness with Orkney, Caithness has an airport at Wick; the Pentland Firth island of Stroma is within Caithness. The name was used for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is now within the Highland council area. Caithness is one of the Watsonian vice-counties, subdivisions of Britain and Ireland which are used for the purposes of biological recording and other scientific data-gathering; the vice-counties were introduced by Hewett Cottrell Watson who first used them in the third volume of his Cybele Britannica published in 1852.
He refined the system somewhat in volumes, but the vice-counties remain unchanged by subsequent local government reorganisations, allowing historical and modern data to be more compared. They provide a stable basis for recording using similarly-sized units, although grid-based reporting has grown in popularity, they remain a standard in the vast majority of ecological surveys, allowing data collected over long periods of time to be compared easily; the Caith element of Caithness comes from the name of a Pictish tribe known as the Cat or Catt people, or Catti. The -ness element comes from Old Norse and means "headland"; the Norse called the area Katanes, over time this became Caithness. The Gaelic name for Caithness, means "among the strangers"; the Catti are represented in the Gaelic name for eastern Sutherland and the old Gaelic name for Shetland, Innse Chat. Caithness extends about 30 miles north-south and about 30 miles east-west, with an area of about 712 square miles; the topography is flat, in contrast to the majority of the remainder of the North of Scotland.
Until the latter part of the 20th century when large areas were planted in conifers, this level profile was rendered still more striking by the total absence of forest. The underlying geology of most of Caithness is old red sandstone to an estimated depth of over 4,000 metres; this consists of the cemented sediments of Lake Orcadie, believed to have stretched from Shetland to Grampian during the Devonian period, about 370 million years ago. Fossilised fish and plant remains are found between the layers of sediment. Older metamorphic rock is apparent in the Scaraben and Ord area, in the high southwest area of the county. Caithness' highest point is in this area; because of the ease with which the sandstone splits to form large flat slabs it is an useful building material, has been used as such since Neolithic times. Caithness is a land of open, rolling farmland and scattered settlements; the area is fringed to the north and east by dramatic coastal scenery and is home to large, internationally important colonies of seabirds.
The surrounding waters of the Pentland Firth and the North Sea hold a great diversity of marine life. Away from the coast, the landscape is dominated by open moorland and blanket bog known as the Flow Country, the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe, extending into Sutherland; this is divided up along the straths by more fertile croft land. The Caithness landscape is rich with the remains of pre-historic occupation; these include the Grey Cairns of Camster, the Stone Lud, the Hill O Many Stanes, a complex of sites around Loch Yarrows and over 100 brochs. A prehistoric souterrain structure at Caithness has been likened to discoveries at Midgarth and on Shapinsay. Numerous coastal castles are Norwegian in their foundations; when the Norsemen arrived in the 10th century, the county was inhabited by the Picts, but with its culture subject to some Goidelic influence from the Celtic Church. The name Pentland Firth can be read as meaning Pictland Fjord. Numerous bands of Norse settlers landed in the county, established themselves around the coast.
On the Latheron side, they extended their settlements as far as Berriedale. Many of the names of places are Norse in origin. In addition, some Caithness surnames, such as Gunn, are Norse in origin. For a long time sovereignty over Caithness was disputed between Scotland and the Norwegian Earldom of Orkney. Circa 1196, Earl Harald Maddadsson agreed to pay a monetary tribute for Caithness to William I. Norway has recognised Caithness as Scottish since the Treaty of Perth in 1266; the understanding of Caithness prehistory is well represented in the county, by groups including Yarrows Heritage Trust, Caithness Horizons and Caithness Broch Project. Caithness formed part of the shire or sheriffdom of Inverness, but gained independence: in 1455 the Earl of Caithness gained a grant of the justiciary and sheriffdom of the area from the Sheriff of Inverness. In 1503 an act of the Parliament of Scotland confirmed the separate jurisdiction, with Dornoch and Wick named as burghs in which the sheriff of Caithness was to hold courts.
The area of the sheriffdom was declared to be identical to that of the Diocese of Caithness. The Sheriff of Inverness still retained power over important legal cases, until 1641. In that year, parliament declared Wick the head burgh of the shire of Caithness and the Earl of Caithne
Scotland is a country, part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides; the Kingdom of Scotland emerged as an independent sovereign state in the Early Middle Ages and continued to exist until 1707. By inheritance in 1603, James VI, King of Scots, became King of England and King of Ireland, thus forming a personal union of the three kingdoms. Scotland subsequently entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England on 1 May 1707 to create the new Kingdom of Great Britain; the union created a new Parliament of Great Britain, which succeeded both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England. In 1801, the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland enacted a political union to create a United Kingdom.
The majority of Ireland subsequently seceded from the UK in 1922. Within Scotland, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has continued to use a variety of styles and other royal symbols of statehood specific to the pre-union Kingdom of Scotland; the legal system within Scotland has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The continued existence of legal, educational and other institutions distinct from those in the remainder of the UK have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and national identity since the 1707 union with England; the Scottish Parliament, a unicameral legislature comprising 129 members, was established in 1999 and has authority over those areas of domestic policy which have been devolved by the United Kingdom Parliament. The head of the Scottish Government, the executive of the devolved legislature, is the First Minister of Scotland. Scotland is represented in the UK House of Commons by 59 MPs and in the European Parliament by 6 MEPs.
Scotland is a member of the British–Irish Council, sends five members of the Scottish Parliament to the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Scotland is divided into councils. Glasgow City is the largest subdivision in Scotland in terms of population, with Highland being the largest in terms of area. "Scotland" comes from the Latin name for the Gaels. From the ninth century, the meaning of Scotia shifted to designate Gaelic Scotland and by the eleventh century the name was being used to refer to the core territory of the Kingdom of Alba in what is now east-central Scotland; the use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass most of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages, as the Kingdom of Alba expanded and came to encompass various peoples of diverse origins. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land mass of modern Scotland, destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period, it is believed the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation.
At the time, Scotland was covered in forests, had more bog-land, the main form of transport was by water. These settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, the first villages around 6,000 years ago; the well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation and ritual sites are common and well preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone. Evidence of sophisticated pre-Christian belief systems is demonstrated by sites such as the Callanish Stones on Lewis and the Maes Howe on Orkney, which were built in the third millennium BCE; the first written reference to Scotland was in 320 BC by Greek sailor Pytheas, who called the northern tip of Britain "Orcas", the source of the name of the Orkney islands. During the first millennium BCE, the society changed to a chiefdom model, as consolidation of settlement led to the concentration of wealth and underground stores of surplus food.
The first Roman incursion into Scotland occurred in 79 AD. After the Roman victory, Roman forts were set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line, but by three years after the battle, the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands; the Romans erected Hadrian's Wall in northern England and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the Roman Empire. The Roman influence on the southern part of the country was considerable, they introduced Christianity to Scotland. Beginning in the sixth century, the area, now Scotland was divided into three areas: Pictland, a patchwork of small lordships in central Scotland; these societies were based on the family unit and had sharp divisions in wealth, although the vast majority were poor and worked full-time in subsistence agriculture. The Picts kept slaves through the ninth century. Gaelic influence over Pictland and Northumbria was facilitated by the large number of Gaelic-speaking clerics working as missionaries. Operating in the sixth ce
Earl of Orkney
The Earl of Orkney was a Norse jarl ruling the Norðreyjar. Founded by Norse invaders, the status of the rulers of the Norðreyjar as Norwegian vassals was formalised in 1195. Although the Old Norse term jarl looks similar to "earl", the jarls were succeeded by earls in the late 15th century, a Norwegian jarl is not the same thing. In the Norse context the distinction between jarls and kings did not become significant until the late 11th century and the early jarls would therefore have had considerable independence of action until that time; the position of Jarl of Orkney was the most senior rank in mediaeval Norway except for the king himself. The jarls were periodically subject to the kings of Alba for those parts of their territory in what is now mainland Scotland. In 1232, a Scottish dynasty descended from the Mormaers of Angus replaced the previous family descended from the late 10th century jarl Torf-Einarr, although the Norðreyjar remained formally subject to Norway; this family was in turn replaced by the descendants of the Mormaers of Strathearn and still by the Sinclair family, during whose time Orkney and Shetland passed to Scots control.
The second earldom was created by James VI of Scotland in 1581 for his half-uncle Robert Stewart but after only two incumbents the title was forfeited in 1614. After the third creation of 1696, which title still exists today, the earls' influence on Orcadian affairs became negligible. Rognvald Eysteinsson, Earl of Møre fl. 865–890 is sometimes credited with being the founder of the jarldom. By implication the Orkneyinga saga identifies him as such for he is given "dominion" over Orkney and Shetland by King Harald Finehair, although there is no concrete suggestion he held the title; the Heimskringla states. Sigurd's son Guthorm died childless. Rognvald's son Hallad inherited the title. However, unable to constrain Danish raids on Orkney, he gave up the earldom and returned to Norway, which "everyone thought was a huge joke". Torf-Einarr succeeded in defeating the Danes and founded a dynasty which retained control of the islands for centuries after his death. Smyth concludes that the role of the brothers Eysteinsson lacks historical credibility and that Torf-Einarr “may be regarded as the first historical earl of Orkney”.
Drawing on Adam of Bremen's assertion that Orkney was not conquered until the time of Harald Hardrada, who ruled Norway from 1043–66, Woolf speculates that Sigurd “the Stout” Hlodvirsson, Torf-Einarr’s great-grandson, may have been the first Earl of Orkney. Dates are conjectural, at least until his death recorded in 1014. Assuming Torf-Einarr is a genuine historical figure, all of the subsequent earls were descended from him, save for Sigurd Magnusson, whose short rule was imposed by his father Magnus Barelegs, who became Sigurd I of Norway. One of the main sources for the lives and times of these earls is the Orkneyinga saga, described as having "no parallel in the social and literary record of Scotland". One of the key events of the saga is the "martyrdom" of Earl Magnus Erlendsson Saint Magnus, c. 1115. The last quarter of the saga is taken up with a lengthy tale of Earl Rögnvald Kali Kolsson and Sweyn Asleifsson — indeed the oldest version ends with the latter's death in 1171. After the murder of Earl Jon Haraldsson some sixty years Magnus, son of Gille Brigte became the first of the Scottish earls.
He may have been a descendent of Earl Rögnvald Kali Kolsson, although this has never been corroborated. However, the line of Norse earls is said to have come to an end when Earl Magnus II was granted his title by Haakon IV of Norway c. 1236. After the close of the Jarls' Saga on the death of Jon Haraldsson in 1230, the history of Orkney is "plunged into a darkness, illuminated by few written sources"; the first jarl known to have held the title after the Norse dynasty came to and end in 1230 was Magnus II but the title may have been held by an unknown other prior to his investiture. Although successive Jarls of Orkney were related, they each acquired the position by being appointed to the role by the Norwegian king; the lack of haste with which a new title was granted by the Norwegians to Orkney has led to the suggestion that Magnus Jonsson may have had an heir, a minor, but who died before 1330. It is likely that unravelling the genealogy of his potential successors and providing proofs of their descent was a time-consuming project.
Whatever the reason, about a decade after Magnus's death the title was granted to Maol Íosa, Mormaer of Strathearn, a distant relative of Earl Gilbert. He had several daughters, but no sons; the earldom was left vacant for about three years, following which Erengisle Suneson was a titular earl for a few years but when his right to the title lapsed prior to 1360 the jarldom lay vacant again. Haakon VI, the Norwegian king, had married the daughter of the King of Denmark; the sudden death of the Swedish king's rebel son, from plague, triggered the foreign policy obligations Haakon had to Valdemar, as a result of the marriage. These drew Haakon's attention away from Orkney, until the death of Valdemar, in 1375. In 1375, Haakon decided upon Alexander of Ard, the son of Maol Íosa's daughter Matilda and Weland of Ard as Suneson's successor. However, Alexander was appointed "Lieutenant and Keeper" of Orkney for a year on 30 June 1375; this was to be a probationary role, the intention being that if Haakon had been satisfied by Alexander's behaviour af
Mormaer of Caithness
The Mormaer of Caithness was a vassal title held by members of the Norwegian nobility based in Orkney from the Viking Age until 1350. The mormaerdom was held as fief of Scotland and the title was held by the Norse Earls of Orkney, who were thus a vassal of both the King of Norway and the King of Scots. There is no other example in the history of either Norway or of Scotland in which a dynasty of earls owed their allegiance to two different kings; the earliest reference to the title is however to that of a native Scots ruler, although the extent of the Scottish crown's influence so far north at the time, beyond the lands of the powerful Mormaers of Moray is questionable. The Norse saga which mentions the existence of Donnchad does not provide a date although the context suggests the early tenth century. Nonetheless, at least since the days of the childhood of Thorfinn Sigurdsson in c. 1020, but already several decades before, the Earls of Orkney were the controlling figures. In the Norse context the distinction between earls and kings did not become significant until the late 11th century and the Caithness mormaers therefore would have had considerable independence of action until that time.
The Pentland Firth lies between Caithness and Orkney, a stretch of water which divided the two earldoms but united them perhaps for the Norse, whose command of the seas was an important aspect of their culture. Indeed there are numerous incidents recorded in the Orkneyinga saga in which movement across these waters occurs as if the two polities were parts of a single political and cultural arena. In the mid-12th century it appears that a king of Norway - Eystein Haraldsson - had no difficulty in capturing Harald Maddadson, an Earl of Orkney, from his base in Thurso, Caithness. Meanwhile a Scottish king - David I exercised control of both areas through promotion of the Scottish Church and other indirect rather than military means. In the 13th century after the Norwegian defeat at the Battle of Largs and the subsequent Treaty of Perth in 1266, the distinctions hardened and the Firth became more like a "state border". Sutherland was part of the Caithness mormaerdom for most this title's existence but was "taken" by Alexander II from Magnus, the first "Angus" earl and given to others for unknown reasons.
Most dates during the Norse period are approximate and records become more detailed and accurate as the line of Norse jarls comes to an end. After the close of the Jarls' Saga on the death of Jon Haraldsson in 1230, the history of Caithness is "plunged into a darkness, illuminated by few written sources". After the rule of Maol Íosa there was no mormaer of Caithness from c. 1350 to 1379. The title Earl of Caithness was granted to David Stewart, a younger son of the Scots king, the mormaerdom continued as an earldom from that point onwards; the list is by necessity a fragmentary one, the archives being not preserved, the reigns of some supposed mormaers being not attested, so forth. According to the Landnámabók, Thorstein Olafsson and Sigurd Eysteinsson “conquered Caithness and Moray, more than half of Argyll Thorstein ruled over these territories as King”. There is no suggestion that Thorstein was beholden to any overlord although his son-in-law Donnchad is described as a "native earl". In 1098 Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway deposed the Thorfinnsson brothers as Earls of Orkney and set his 8 year old son Sigurd Magnusson up in their place.
This was an unprecedented occurrence intended as a permanent step. Magnus conducted two vigorous campaigns in the Hebrides and Irish Sea region, it is that de facto control of the mormaerdom was in his hands prior to his death during the second campaign in 1103 although "there does not seem to have been any intention on the Norwegian side" to formally take control of Caithness, which remained subject to the Scottish crown. It is possible. In the late 11th or early 12th century, Ótarr son of Madadhan and brother-in-law of Haakon Paulsson is described as "jarl of Thurso", it is not certain that this second "Moddan of Dale" was a descendant of his earlier namesake, there is no suggestion that Moddan himself was a jarl. Ótarr was the brother of Helga Moddansdóttir fl. 1015-23 and a "curiously shadowy figure". After the failure of Harald the Younger, c.1200 William of Scotland asked King of the Isles Rognvaldr Gudrodsson to take Caithness on behalf of the Scottish Crown. Rognvaldr marched north, subduing the region and returned to the Isles leaving three stewards in charge.
Although not descended from previous Orcadian earls, Rognvaldr was related to these Norse magnates through his paternal grandfather's marriage to Ingibjorg, daughter of Haakon Paulsson. There is no evidence of his installation as a Mormaer of Caithness, only that he was appointed to administer the province, his tenure in Caithness seems to have been short-lived and once again Harald Maddadsson became the undisputed ruler of his northern holdings. |- Jon Haraldsson's son Harald had drowned in 1226 and as there were no male heirs two parties with a claim sought the jarldom from King Haakon Haakonsson of Norway. On their return to Orkney in the autumn of 1232 in a single ship the claimants and their supporters were all lost at sea; as early as 2 October of that year the Caithness title was claimed by a member of the family of the Earl of Angus and it was to this house that Caithness and Orkney were granted. There was no Mormaer of Caithness from c. 1350 to 1379. Alexander of Ard, the son of Maol Íosa's daughter Matilda and Weland of Ard was considered the rightful heir to Caithness but he resigned hi
Sutherland is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area in the Highlands of Scotland. Its county town is Dornoch. Sutherland borders Caithness to the east, Ross-shire to the south and the Atlantic to the north and west. Like its southern neighbour Ross-shire, Sutherland has some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Europe on its western fringe where the mountains meet the sea; these include high sea cliffs, old mountains composed of Precambrian and Cambrian rocks. The name Sutherland dates from the era of Norwegian Viking rule and settlement over much of the Highlands and Islands, under the rule of the jarl of Orkney. Although it contains some of the northernmost land in the island of Great Britain, it was called Suðrland from the standpoint of Orkney and Caithness. In Gaelic, the area is referred to according to its traditional areas: Dùthaich MhicAoidh in the northeast, Asainte in the west, Cataibh in the east. Cataibh is sometimes used to refer to the area as a whole.
The northwest corner of Sutherland, traditionally known as the Province of Strathnaver, was not incorporated into Sutherland until 1601. This was the home of the powerful and warlike Clan Mackay, as such was named in Gaelic, Dùthaich'Ic Aoidh, the Homeland of Mackay. Today this part of Sutherland is known as Mackay Country, unlike other areas of Scotland where the names traditionally associated with the area have become diluted, there is still a preponderance of Mackays in the Dùthaich. Much of the population is based in coastal towns, such as Helmsdale and Lochinver, which until recently made much of their living from the rich fishing of the waters around the British Isles. Much of Sutherland is poor relative to the rest of Scotland, with few job opportunities beyond government funded employment and seasonal tourism. Further education is provided by North Highland College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands; the Ross House Campus in Dornoch was the first establishment in the United Kingdom to provide a degree in golf management.
The Burghfield House Campus in Dornoch, is the home for the Centre for History teaching undergraduate and postgraduate history degrees to students around the UHI network and worldwide. The inland landscape is rugged and sparsely populated. Despite being Scotland's fifth-largest county in terms of area, it has a smaller population than a medium-size Lowland Scottish town, it stretches from the Atlantic across to the North Sea. The sea-coasts boast high cliffs and deep fjords in the east and north, ragged inlets on the west and sandy beaches in the north; the remote far northwest point of Sutherland, Cape Wrath, is the most northwesterly point in Scotland. The county has many fine beaches, a remote example being Sandwood Bay, which can only be reached by foot along a rough track; the number of visiting tourists is minimal. Sutherland has many rugged mountains such as the most northerly Munro; the western part comprises Torridonian sandstone underlain by Lewisian gneiss. The spectacular scenery has been created by denudation to form isolated sandstone peaks such as Foinaven, Arkle, Cùl Mór and Suilven.
Such mountains are attractive for hill scrambling, despite their remote location. Together with similar peaks to the south in Wester Ross, such as Stac Pollaidh, they have a unique structure with great scope for exploration. On the other hand, care is needed when bad weather occurs owing to their isolation and the risks of injury. Owing to its isolation from the rest of the country, Sutherland was reputedly the last haunt of the native wolf, the last survivor being shot in the 18th century. However, other wildlife has survived, including the golden eagle, sea eagle and pine marten amongst other species which are rare in the rest of the country. There are pockets of remnants of the original Caledonian Forest; the importance of the county's scenery is recognised by the fact that 4 of Scotland's 40 national scenic areas are located here. The purpose of the NSA designation is to identify areas of exceptional scenery and to ensure its protection from inappropriate development; the areas protected by the designation are considered to represent the type of scenic beauty "popularly associated with Scotland and for which it is renowned".
The four NSAs within Sutherland are: The Assynt-Coigach NSA has many distinctively shaped mountains, including Quinag, Suilven, Cùl Mòr, Stac Pollaidh and Ben More Assynt, that rise steeply from the surrounding "cnoc and lochan" scenery. These can appear higher than their actual height would indicate due to their steep sides and the contrast with the moorland from which they rise. Assynt lies within Sutherland, whilst Coigach lies within Cromarty; the Dornoch Firth NSA straddles the boundary between Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty, covers a variety of landscapes surrounding the narrow and sinuous firth. The Kyle of Tongue NSA covers the mountains of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal, as well as woodlands and crofting settlements on the shoreline of the kyle itself; the North West Sutherland NSA covers the mountains of Foinaven and Ben Stack as well as the coastal scenery surrounding Loch Laxford and Handa Island. The A9 road main east coast road is challenging north of Helmsdale at the notorious Berriedale Braes, there are few inland roads.
The Far North Line north-south single-track railway line was extended through Sutherland by the Highland Railway between 1868 and 1871. It enters Sutherland near Invershin and runs along the east coast as far as possible, but an inland diversion was necessary from Helmsdale along the Strath of Kildonan; the line
Thurso is a town and former burgh on the north coast of the Highland council area of Scotland. Situated in the historical area of Caithness, it is the northernmost town on the British mainland, it lies at the junction of the north-south A9 road and the west-east A836 road, connected to Bridge of Forss in the west and Castletown in the east. The 34-mile River Thurso flows into Thurso Bay and the Pentland Firth; the river estuary serves as a small harbour. At the 2011 Census, Thurso had a population of 7,933; the larger Thurso civil parish including the town and the surrounding countryside had a population of 9,112. Thurso functioned as an important Norse port, traded with ports throughout northern Europe until the 19th century. A thriving fishing centre, Thurso had a reputation for its linen-cloth and tanning activities; as of 2015 the Dounreay Nuclear power plant, although decommissioned at the end of the 20th century, employs a significant number of the local population. The Category-A listed ruined Old St Peter's Church is one of the oldest churches in Scotland, dating to at least 1125.
The current church, St Andrew's and St Peter's, was built in 1832 to a design by William Burn in the Gothic style. The town contains the main campus of North Highland College and Thurso High School, the northernmost secondary school on the British mainland, established in 1958. Thurso Castle, built in 1872, is in ruins. Thurso is home to the football team, Thurso FC, established in 1998, which play in the North Caledonian League, the rugby teams Caithness Crushers and Caithness RFC. Thurso railway station, opened in 1874, was the most northern station on the Sutherland and Caithness Railway; the nearby port of Scrabster provides ferry services to the Orkney Islands. Thurso was known by the Celtic name of tarvodubron meaning "bull water" or "bull river". Norse influence altered its name to Thjorsá Thorsá, based on the deity of Thor and translating as the place on Thor’s River; the local Scots name, derives from the Norse, as does the modern Scottish Gaelic Inbhir Theòrsa. Inbhir means a river mouth, is found as "Inver" in many anglicised names.
It is possible that there was a pre-Norse Gaelic name as well, as "tarvodunum" is cognate with the modern Gaelic terms, "tarbh", "dobhran" and "dun". Thurso's history stretches back to at least the era of Norse Orcadian rule in Caithness, which ended conclusively in 1266. Neolithic horned cairns found on nearby Shebster Hill, which were used for burials and rituals, date back about 5000 years; the town was an important Norse port, has a history of trade with ports throughout northern Europe until the 19th century. In 1330 Scotland's standard unit of weight was brought in line with that of Thurso at the decree of King David II of Scotland, a measure of the town's economic importance. Old St Peter's Kirk is said to date from circa 1220 and the time of Caithness Bishop Gilbert Murray, who died in 1245. In 1649, the Irish, led by Donald Macalister Mullach, attacked Thurso and were chased off by the residents, headed by Sir James Sinclair. One of the locals, a servant of Sinclair was said to have killed Mullach by "cutting a button from his master's coat and firing it from a musket".
In 1811, the parish had 592 houses with a population of 3462. Following the passage into law of the 1845 Poor Law Act, a combination poorhouse was constructed; the building, which had a capacity to house 149 inmates, was on a five acres site to the west of Thurso Road and provided poor relief for Thurso and the parishes of Bower, Dunnet, Olrig and Watten. Many of the poorhouses in Scotland were under used, by 1924 the building had been unoccupied for several years so was sold. Much of the town is a planned 19th-century development. In 1906, a new Royal National Lifeboat Institution boathouse and slipway was inaugurated near Scrabster Harbour. A fire on 10 December 1956 destroyed the building and its 47ft Watson-class lifeboat and a new building and boat was built, launched the following year. A new lifeboat, named "The Three Sisters" was inaugurated in 1971 by The Queen Mother. A major expansion occurred in the mid-20th century when the Dounreay nuclear power plant was established at Dounreay in 1955, 9 miles to the west of the town.
The arrival of workers related to the power station caused a three-fold increase in the population of Thurso. This led to around 1,700 new houses being built in Thurso and nearby Castletown, a mixture of local authority housing blended with private houses and flats built by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Decommissioned at the end of the 20th century, it is estimated the site will not be cleared of all the waste until the 2070s, so will continue to provide employment. Thurso is the name of the viscountcy held by the Sinclair family in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Thurso hosted the National Mòd in 2010, the first time this festival of Gaelic language and culture had been held so far north. Thurso has history as a burgh of barony dating from 1633 when it was established by Charles I. In 1975, under the Local Government Act 1973, the local government burgh was merged into the Caithness district of the two-tier Highland region. In 1996, under the Local Government etc. (Scot