Friday, 7 August 2020

Keiss Castle

 Keiss Castles - the old and the not so old. The 'old' one was built by George, 5th Earl of Caithness

Even older inhabitants lived just along the way - Keiss Broch apparently dates back to the 1st centuries BC/AD

Saturday, 18 July 2020


Known today as a Clearance Village this was the precarious home of people who were removed from  their inland homes to make way for sheep

Ultimately their living was so precarious that they chose to depart for New Zealand

Around 1793 Sir John Sinclair evicted 12 families from his Langwell Estate, then around 1804 James Anderson evicted more people from Ausdale. Then in 1830 Donald Horne, then of the Langwell Estate, removed families from the nearby Auchencraig to Badbea and finally in early the 1840s Horne evicted families who had lived at Badbea all their lives

A Monument in memory of the residents of Badbea was erected in 1911

Thursday, 16 July 2020



The name of Timothy Post is synonymous with cartography as the first to produce detailed maps of Scotland. Timothy and his brother Zachary also have connections to Caithness.

Dunnet Church

Timothy Pont was minister of Dunnet Church from 1602 to 1610. Dunnet Kirk however has a history back to the 13th century.

Zachary Pont was for a short term minister in Bower. Zachary was married to a daughter of John Knox.

Bower Church
Bower Church the resting place of the Henderson of Stemster family is now a little overgrown'

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Much of the base of Caithness is made of flagstone - a commodity that when quarried has been shipped across the world. Pavements in many of the world's cities are made of Caithness Flagstone. Flagstone quarries still exist but many like this one at Achscrabster are now largely part of our industrial heritage.

A feature of this and other local quarries was the use of windmills for power. The surviving Achscrabster stump, one of several still existing, is about 12 ft diameter at the base and 13 ft high, and was probably operational pumping water in c1860.

Thursday, 11 June 2020


The centre piece of the township of Ackergill is Ackergill Tower. Helen Gunn, the maid of Braemore was abducted and held captive in Ackergill Tower. She jumped and today her ghost is reputed to continue to move among the rooms.

Greatly enlarged by Sir Richard Dunbar of Hempriggs, it became the Dunbar ‘seat’ for many years. The Dunbar’s were also instrumental in establishing a harbour and a fishing station at Ackergill. Fishermen and their families were imported from the Moray Coast. Sitting in Sinclair Bay it was something of a harbour of refuge when ships that were unable to enter Wick Harbour. Passengers from the regular Steamers were often landed at Ackergill. Boats however did have challenges in Sinclair Bay and to negate the need to wheel a lifeboat out from Wick, Ackergill was established as a Lifeboat Station.

Farming land is rich in Ackergill and supported three large farms – Ackergill Mains, Upper Ackergill and Shorelands.


Friday, 16 November 2018

Baseline Caithness

Exploring some Caithness gems

Built by Alan Stevenson of the famous Stevenson family, Noss Head Lighthouse was completed in 1849. It used a new style of lantern with diagonal instead of vertical framing, which then became the Northern Lighthouse standard. The light was automated in 1987 and the original light is now in the Wick Heritage Museum

Scene of cruelty - George Earl of Caithness imprisoned his son in the dungeon and allegedly fed him salt beef and no water!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Caithness & Patagonia

We are Going to be on the Telly!!

Team Patagonia

Caithness meets Patagonia in Inverness

Press & Journal Saturday 9th July

Now available Live to Order from Whittles Publishing

A number of those who went from Caithness to Patagonia came from crofter/fishing families. This is all that remains of the fishing station at Achastle.


Seven of the Bain family, plus a niece and nephew left Caithness for Patagonia. They were crofters and fishermen in Caithness and played a key role in the development of sheep farming in Patagonia. Their original croft house at Mavesy still stands


Angus McPherson from Caithness began his Patagonian shepherding life on Estancia San Gregorio, one of the largest sheep farms in Patagonia.


Two Caithness families with Patagonian connections lived at Todholes in Lyth. All that is left of the crofting community is this old steading.


Gathering of Caithness Patagonian descendants on Sunday 21st February at Lyth Arts Centre


Not all of our Caithness Patagonian Pioneers were employed as shepherds.

One was an administrator at a refrigeration plant and another worked as an electrician

What did your Patagonian ancestor do?

Caithness Patagonia Legacy

Shop in Argentina named after a Grandmother's place in Caithness 

Who Do Think You Are

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry

The Caithness Patagonian connection captured by a team of Caithness Stitchers. See the whole tapestry -

Could these be Caithness Patagonians?


Join us at the Scottish Association of Family History Societies 25th Annual Conference 


Our good friends at the John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier continue to help. Today they have published this update


The remoteness and the scattered nature of the Patagonian estancias meant that people were often far away from any form of religious support. The Church of Scotland and the United Free Churches recognised the problem and put a lot of effort into supplying ministers. This advert from the Scotsman in 1925 demonstrates their commitment

Minister – C of S or U.F. minister wanted immediately for Patagonia, preferably under 35; three years engagement (renewable); part of each year in Buenos Aires; salary, £600; new motor car; £100 annually for expenses and first class return fare; unique opportunity for vigorous man. Applications, before July 4th, to Thomas Henderson, 22 Queen Street, Edinburgh.[1]

[1] Scotsman June 17 1925



In 1922 John Hamilton accidentally ran over a rare Patagonian Weasel. Mindful of the need to preserve our natural history, he had it sent to Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh (where it remains to this day)


The Caithness Family History Society Journal for Sept/Oct contains our article on Caithness & Patagonia


Many of the Caithness Patagonian Pioneers returned home to find a wife.
For the women in Patagonia the choice was limited!
"In Patagonia the female population was scarce whereas the male population had grown in comparison and was not very demanding in terms of beauty and still less of personal assets"


The Scottish Association of Family History Societies 2014 Conference takes place in Dunfermline on 26th April 2014 and the Caithness Patagonians have a slot in the programme.

This is in Patagonia, but can we recognise anyone?

Does anyone know who this is? 
Could he be a Caithness Patagonian?

Patagonia is a long way from Caithness, both physically and mentally. Apart from the wide horizons common to both there is, literally, a world of distance between the two. In the late 19th century however, a number of Caithness people took on the challenge of Patagonia.

Thanks to the contacts in Patagonia - the stories begin to unfold

Next talk is in Caithness Horizons on 8th May with Caithness Family History Society

Many thanks to all the Patagonian Pioneer families that are offering to open up their 'archives'

Talk arranged at Wick Heritage Centre on 5th March. Hoping some more descendants pop out. 

We know that some went first to the Falkland Islands and the archivists at Jane Cameron National Archive and the Falkland Islands Company have been most helpful. 

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries a number of Caithness people left their native shores for the distant lands of Patagonia.
Who were these people and why did they travel half way across the world for work?