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
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.
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.
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 wickheritage.org
Scene of cruelty - George Earl of Caithness imprisoned his son in the dungeon and allegedly fed him salt beef and no water!
FISHERMEN FAMILIES 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.
BAIN FAMILY CROFT 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
BIG BUSINESS Angus McPherson from Caithness began his Patagonian shepherding life on Estancia San Gregorio, one of the largest sheep farms in Patagonia.
THE CAITHNESS HOMESTEADS Two Caithness families with Patagonian connections lived at Todholes in Lyth. All that is left of the crofting community is this old steading.
THE DESCENDANTS Gathering of Caithness Patagonian descendants on Sunday 21st February at Lyth Arts Centre NOT JUST SHEEP
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
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.
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)
This is in Patagonia, but can we recognise anyone?
Does anyone know who this is?
Could he be a Caithness Patagonian?
A NEW HORIZON
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