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Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Route IV: Inverness to Tain, Golspie, Wick, Thurso and John o' Groats


The Aird; Clachnaharry; Geological Note, 1.—Loch Beauly; Bunchrew, 2.—Phopachy; Kirkhill; Moniack, 3.—Valley of the Beauly, 4.—Priory, 6.—Muir of Ord; Stone Pillars; Cilie Christ; Brahan; Conon House, 6 —Dingwall, 7.—Evantown Balcony; Novar; Clan Munro, 8.—Ferrindonald and Easter Ross, 9.—Short road from Alness; Ardross, 10.—Upper road to Tain; Invergordon Castle; Kincraig, &c.; Poor's House, 11.—Invergordon; Coast Villages; Tarbat House, 12.—Balnagown Castle, 13.—Aultgraat; Tain; St. Duthus' Chapel and Church; Monastery of Fearn; Tain Academy; Excursion to Tarbet Ness and Fearn; Agricultural Improvements, foot-note, 14.—Meikle Ferry; Bonar Bridge; Ardross, 15.—Enter on Sutherland; Dun Cruich; Spinningdale; Ospisdale; Skibo; Clashmore, 16. Dornoch; Geyzen Briggs; Palace and Cathedral; Burning for Witchcraft; Links, 17.—Tumuli; Stone Coffins and Cairns, 18.—Little Ferry; Mound; Loch Fleet; Skelbo Castle, 19.—Improvements, 20.—Golspie; Dunrobin Castle, 21.—The Catti; History of the Earls of Sutherland, footnote; Brora Quarries; Coal Basin; Geology, 22.—Strath and Loch Kilcalmkill; Cole's Castle, 23.—Loth; Port Gower; Helmsdale, 24.—The Ord of Caithness; Dunbeath, 25.--General Features of Caithness; Improvements, 26.—Braal Castle; Oldwick Castle, 27.—Wick and Thurso; Herring Fishery, Account of; Wick and Pultneytown, 28.—History of Caithness, foot-note; District Road to Houna and John-o'-Groat's House; Old Castles, Horrible Stories of; Battle of Alt-a-Mhairlich, 29.—Houna; John-o'-Groat's House; Duncanshy, 30.—Pentland Firth, Detention of Vessels, and Dangers of, 31, and foot-note. Houna to Thurso; Improvements; Peasantry; Pavement Quarries, 32.—Thurso Bay; Holburn Head; The Clett, 33.


Conveyances.

Mail, a four-horse coach to Tain, and a two-horse coach hence to Thurso, starts from Caledonian hotel, Inverness, every morning.

Duke of Wellington, by Beauly, to Dingwall and Strathpeffer (two-horse coach), runs daily in summer from Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, and back the same day (hours vary).

Mail Gig from Dingwall to Loch Carron and Skye (see Branch c. to this route).

Carriers every Tuesday and Friday from Inverness to Beauly, and to Dingwall by Kessock; and on the same days another carrier goes between Dingwall and Tain.

The London and Leith Steamers from Inverness call at Invergordon; and the Rothesay Castle leaves Kessock Ferry every Monday and Thursday morning, for the ports on the Moray Firth and the Little Ferry in Sutherlandshire, returning every succeeding day (see page 203).

1. ONE mile from Inverness, the road, after crossing the Caledonian Canal, (as to which see pp. 133 to 147,) leads suddenly westward : and quitting the valley of the Ness, instantly presents to our view the expanse of Loch Beauly, with a great portion of the Aird, the richest and most beautiful district in the county, and the land of the clan Fraser. Between the road and the sea is the straggling village of Clachnaharry, which is inhabited by fishermen and boat-builders, and derives its name from the rough impending rocks to the westward, (Clachnaherrie, or the Watchman's seat or stone,) where, in days of yore, the burghers of Inverness found it necessary to station a sentinel to give notice of the approach of the Reivers of Ross, or the marauding clans of the west coast.

Mr. Duff, the late proprietor of Muirtown, erected, on the highest pinnacle of the rock, a neat column, visible all over the surrounding country, commemorative of a battle fought at this place in the year 1378 (according to the Historic of the Earldom of Sutherland, 1333), between the Munroes of Foulis and the Clan Chattan. It is thus described by a late writer:- "The Munroes, a distinguished tribe of Ross, returning from an inroad they had made in the south of Scotland, passed by lloyhall, the seat of Macintosh, leader of the clan Chattan; a share of the booty, or road-collop, payable to a chief for traversing his dominions, was demanded and acceded to ; but Macintosh's avaricious spirit coveting the whole, his proposal met with contempt, and Macintosh summoned his vassals to extort compliance. The Munroes, pursuing their journey, forded the river Ness, a little above the island, and despatched the cattle they had plundered across the hill of Kinmylies, to Lovat's province. Their enemy came up to them at the point of Clachnahayre, and immediately joined battle : the conflict was such as might have been expected from men excited to revenge by a long and inveterate enmity. Quarter was neither sought nor granted : after an obstinate struggle, Macintosh was killed. The survivors of his band retraced their steps to their own country. John Munro, tutor of Fowlis, was left for dead upon the field; his kinsmen were not long of retaliating. Having collected a sufficient force, they marched in the dead of the night for the Isle of Moy, where the chief of the Macintoshes resided. By the aid of some planks which they had carried with them, and now put together, they crossed to the isle, and glutted their thirst for revenge, by the murder or captivity of all the inmates."—(Anderson's historical Account of the Family of Fraser, p. 54.)

[The geologist could not begin an examination of the rocks of this district better than at this point of Clachnaharry lie there, immediately to the westward of the little monument above mentioned, finds an anticlinal axis, caused by an outburst of granite among the old red sandstone strata, and its coarse conglomerate, which are thrown in opposite directions, at a high angle, dipping east and west. About half-a-mile farther on, where a quarry was opened for the Caledonian Canal, the sandstone will be found tilted up almost vertically, and waved and contorted in the most intricate manner, like curved gneiss. In some places it is hardened and shattered into small tabular masses, the lavers being occasionally separated by thin seams of foliated celestine The granite here does not crop out, hut the altered character of the sandstone indicates its vicinity, as does its upheaved and shattered condition in the adjoining hills of Craig Phadrick (about 500 feet) and Duncan (about 1000 feet) ; and in the high rough ridge, immediately to the westwards, which subsides into the sea at Phopachy, the granite comes out in mass, being united without any interruption with the great central deposits of that rock, which compose almost all the mountains on the west side of Loch Ness, between Urquhart Bay and Dochfour. The Great Glen itself, indeed, is most likely a valley of depression caused by the uprising of the enormous granitic walls which line it on both sides, the extent of the upheaval being still in some degree measurable by the height of the great sandstone top or dome of Mealfourvounie, which is a mass of sandstone conglomerate, about 1500 feet deep, resting on a granitic precipice of about the same depth, which is beautifully exhibited at Aultaigh, on Loch Ness side. Between the lower end of this lake and the sea, the granite neucleus is crusted over with the old red sandstone, but so thin that the crystaline rock is frequently exposed as at Clachnaharry, Kirkhill, and other places along the Beauly Firth; but pursuing the general bearing of the granite axis towards the north-east across the firth, we find it again cropping out in mass at Avoch, and thence forming the greater portion of the high ridge running behind Fortrose and Rosemarkie, to the Sutors of Cromarty, where extensive sections of it (as a granitic gneiss) are again displayed in the sea cliffs. Again, at the point of Clachnaharry, the observer has beautifully presented to him the terraces of the drift gravel, which are here seen encompassing both sides of the Beauly and Moray Firths, and extending up the valley of the Ness. At the lower end of the canal basin, the gravel bed was cut (near the engineer's houses) to a considerable depth, and reaching to the boulder-clay beneath it, and on the top of the bank jnst above this opening, some of the largest erratic blocks in the neighbourhood may be seen. Those blocks, though in this place conglomerates of the adjoining bill, in general, around Inverness, belonged originally to the crystalline masses of the Great Glen; and in Ross-shire, as far eastwards as Tain and Tarbat Ness, a peculiar coarse yellowish gneiss is abundantly strewn over the surface, while to the east of Inverness, the beautiful porphorvtic flesh-coloured granite of Cawdor and Ardclach, is scattered still farther east over all Morayshire.

We refer to Chambers' "Sea Margins" for minute descriptions and sections of the gravel beds about Inverness, and cannot sum up this sketch better than in the words of the lies. J. G. Cumming, Vice-Principal of King William's College, Isle of Man, in the Report of his Paper in the Geological Society's Transactions for April 1849, on the "Tertiary Deposits of the Moray Firth and the Great Caledonian Valley," to which we shall afterwards refer in connexion with the deposits of 'Moray and Sutherland shires. (See also p. 344.)

"The conclusions to which my examination hitherto (says Mr. C.) of the pbenomena connected with the newer pleiocene gravels, sands, and clays, has led me, may he thus briefly summed up, viz.

"That at the commencement of the period of the boulder-clay, the relative level of the sea and land in the British Isles was not greatly different from what it now is, and that the main features of the country had been already assumed.

"That a great current, originating probably in the union of a north-polar current, with a modification of the present gulf-stream, was constantly setting in upon the northern and western shores of Great Britain and Ireland, with a climate of an arctic or subarctic character.

"That a gradual submergence of the area of the British Isles took place to the extent, in some parts, of at least 1600 feet, and subsequently a gradual emergence of the same extent.

"That the former event is chronicled by the scratched rocks and boulders of the true boulder-clay series; the latter is marked by the more elevated terraces or lower extended platforms of rolled boulders and gravel, which are in many instances a redistribution in great part of the materials of the boulder-clay, sometimes regularly stratified.

"That during the uprising the more rigorous conditions of the climate were modified, and erratics from more distant localities were dropped, upon the grounding and deliquescence of icebergs, whilst the scratching and grooving action of littoral ice in a great measure ceased.

"That the upheaval of the great terrace, which in the neighbourhood of Inverness rises from 90 to 120 feet above the sea, and from 30 to 130 feet on the east and west coasts of Great Britain and the Isle of Man, marks the period of the last great change in the physical conditions of the country during the glacial epoch.

"That after this upheaval, and the consequent union of the British isles with each other and with the continent of Europe, the sea has, through a vastly lengthened period, quietly eaten back its way into the drift-gravel platform, and again separated these countries.

"This might be accompanied with a gradual depression again to a certain extent, so that the forests which had grown upon the lower alluvial grounds and valleys, cut out of the drift-gravel, were submerged.

"This depression, as indicated by inland cliffs and water-worn caves, was probably to the extent of from fifteen to twenty feet, compared with the present high-water level, so that a subsequent elevation has left in sheltered situations a low line of beach rising from the present sea level to the base of the pleistocene cliffs inland, often forming rich alluvial tracts on what were formerly the sands of wider estuaries."]

2. Although it has received a separate name, the quiet and sequestered basin of Loch Beauly is but the inner portion of the Moray Firth, from the western corner of which it branches off; the ferry of Kessock forming the connecting strait. Traveiling along its low swelling shores, the stranger, though in a country truly Highland, meets with an unexpected source of pleasure in the freshness of the sea breeze, and in finding the signs of maritime life so far inland, where he looked only for the repose of alpine heaths and valleys. Local tradition indeed maintains that the whole basin was a pastoral strath as far down as Fort-George, till about the period of the upheaval on the English coast of the Goodwin Sands. The daily increasing breadth of the sloping cultivated grounds, the frequent masses of wood, the number of gentlemen's seats and farm-houses with which the margin of the firth is studded, the flocks of waterfowl, the fishing-boats, and the occasional appearance of vessels holding up their course towards the mountains, give to this hill-encircled sheet of water, and the drive on either side of it, a cheerfulness and air of active life not usually attendant on Highland scenery. The more distant mountains at the same time are truly alpine ; the huge form of Ben Wyvis occupying the northern background, while, to the west, the lofty, massive, but sharper outlined Benevachart and the heights of Strathglass and Strathconon uprear a continuous serrated mountain screen along the horizon.

Three miles from Inverness we reach the wooded promontory of Bunchrew (John Fraser, Esq.), formerly an old and favourite retreat of the family of Culloden, especially of the celebrated Lord President Forbes.

3. The traveller now enters upon the possessions of Lord Lovat; and on the next promontory, ,jutting out into the sea, he will perceive the house of Phopachy, the former residence of an old branch of his clan—ancestors of the Frasers of Torbreck.

Here a new section of the district, called the Aird, [There are three distinguished airds or heights in this quarter, Ardross, between the Cromartv and Dornoch firths; Ardmeanach, or the Priest's Aird, the Black Isle, in Ross; and Ard MacShemie, or Lovat's Aird.] presents itself; the firth at the same time contracting, and exposing more distinctly to our view the sandy beach and low Carse lands at its head, with the Castles of Kilcoy and Redcastle, the manse of Killearnan, and the house of Tarradale on the Ross-shire coast. The country more near is of the richest description. Corn fields occupy the sides and middle of an open strath extending from a line of hills on the south to the margin of the sea, and bounded on the north-west by a gentle sloping ridge which rises from the bank of the river Beauly. This ridge is crowned with luxuriant woods; among which are the mansion-houses and policies of several proprietors, most of them heads of the different branches of the clan Fraser.

From Bogroy a cross-road conducts to the gates of the several seats just alluded to, and to the church and manse of Kirkhill; and a branch of the same line is continued over the hill to Beauly. On the summit of the hill, behind the manse, stood the old church of Wardlaw, or the watching-hill of the district. "The Chapel," as it is called, which occupies the locale of that building, has long been the burying-place of the Lovat family, and of the cadets nearest to them in blood ; the walls are hung round with escutcheons and tablets of many generations, and the monuments of the Lords Thomas and Simon Fraser of Lovat are particularly worthy of notice. Around the chapel the poorer vassals of the clan, and the other inhabitants of the parish, inter their dead. Resuming our course along the post road, in less than a mile's distance from Bogroy, we pass the houses of Easter and Wester Moniack—the former belonging to J. B. Fraser, Esq. of Relig, the accomplished author and Eastern traveller, and the latter to Lord Lovat. The hills above the first residence, and along the deeply channelled and romantic burn of Moniack, are clothed with magnificent woods, both planted and natural, and nourished under the eye of the proprietor, whose garden contains the finest groups of cedars in this country. The road thence leads us for a mile and a half along the Moss of Conan, recently a deep quagmire, the haunt of the snipe and bittern, but now rapidly changing, under the influence of drainage and the plough, into a beautiful cultivated valley: beyond it, on the left, rises a semicircular range of pine-clad hills, which conducts the eye to the oak and larch plantations of Phoinas and Belladrum, but of which one bare and rocky peak rising above the rest is called Castle Spynie; which is surmounted by a walled structure partly vitrified.

4. Another bend of the road, and the magnificent valley of the Beauly bursts on the sight; here a plain nearly circular, and almost two miles wide, traversed by a broad sweeping river, encompassed by a ring of high-terraced banks, which, as they approach near one another towards the west, lead the eye to the gorge of a rocky opening, down which the waters pour, which form the picturesque Falls of Kilmorack. The surface of the plain, and of the terraced ground by which it is encircled, and the sides of the hills which slope down to both, are elegantly chequered with cultivated fields, and dense woods of birch and fir; and above them, the brown and rugged heights of Strathglass and Glenstrathfarar rise in the western sky, the peaked and snow-clad summit of Benevachart on the estate of Struy being the most prominent; and towards the north, the huge shoulders of Ben Wyvis, the king of Ross-shire mountains, whose bulky form towers majestic for several miles after leaving Inverness, again present themselves. The valley below is further adorned with the steep, but handsome Lovat Bridge, built in 1810, across the river Beauly; and the top of the opposite hill is diversified with small patches of corn land, allotted by General Simon Fraser of Lovat, towards the close of last century, to the veteran soldiers of his clan who had served under him in the American war. The valley towards the mouth of the river becomes a fertile carse, and the expanse of rich cultivated ground stretching along the sloping sides of the firth is extensive. On the summit of the ridge, before descending to the plain, a road is observed striking off to the left, which proceeds through the parish of Kiltarlity to the higher regions of the country afterwards described; and to the right of it, again, are seen the walls and dense woods of Beaufort Castle, the seat of the Right Honourable Thomas Alexander Fraser, Lord Lovat, the present chief of the clan Fraser. The road from the Lovat Bridge leads directly westwards to the Falls of Kilmorack and the districts afterwards noticed: that turning eastward from it conducts a mile onwards to the inn and village of Beauly, where the tourist will find pretty comfortable quarters, and a posting establishment.

5. The ancient Priory of Beauly, which rears its venerable walls above the aged trees which surround it, stands not fifty yards distant from the brink of the river, on a rich loamy soil. Its name is significant of the beauty of its situation ; and the remains of its orchard attest the fertility of the ground, and the attention which the old French monks paid to horticulture. They belonged to the order of Valliscaulium, a reform of the Cistertians, following the rule of St. Bennet, who were brought into Scotland, about the year 1230, by Malvoisin, bishop of St. Andrews, and established at the same period at Pluscardine in Elginshire, at Beauly, and Ardchattan in Argyle. They led an austere and solitary life, and afforded education to the youth, and an asylum to many gentlemen of the Highlands, whom either bodily infirmity, or a distaste for the coarse manners of their countrymen, disqualified for more active occupations.

This priory was founded by John Bisset of Lovat, A. D. 1230; but various additions were afterwards made to it by the several Lords Fraser of Lovat; and at the Reformation, when the last prior gave it, along with his lands, by reason of the "present troubles," in trust to Hugh Lord Lovat, its revenues were considerable. It is now a mere shell: the roof is fallen; and the area within is occupied only with the rubbish of the walls, and the closely-set graves of the clan Fraser, and their allies. Beside the high altar repose the ashes of the old chiefs; and near them those of the principal branches of the clan Fraser, of the Chisholms, and other tribes in Strathglass.

The north transept, which was also the chapter house, has been appropriated as a burying-place exclusively by the Mackenzies of Gairloch, and the fine effigy of a recumbent knight in full panoply of mail, under an arched canopy, marks the resting place of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, eighth Laird of Kintail, who died in 1493, and who was the first interred here; all his predecessors having been buried in Iona. The south transept contains a great many sepulchres, some surmounted with carved niches and stone sarcophagi; but it is not known to what families they belong, and tradition says that the priors and monks were buried there.

The variety of figures on the more ancient tombstones and fallen crosses is considerable; some are elegantly carved, and the inscriptions on many of them are in the ancient Saxon character. The architecture of the chapel was in the simple, but beautiful early pointed style; a few of the windows on the south side being also formed into very large trefoils. This priory was first despoiled by Oliver Cromwell.

Beauly, or Beaulieu, is said to have been so named by Queen Mary, though we rather suspect the name is a plat upon the Celtic word Bal-aa, or town of the ford, significant of its position with reference to the adjoining well-known ford on the river. Beauly was the market-town of the old Barons of Lovat; and the great fairs, or stated markets, used to be proclaimed in it by the chief in person, with much pomp and ceremony. It is called, by the Gaelic population, "Balmanach," or "Banachin," the Monk's Town, and the neighbouring district, " Leornamanach," or the "Monk's Land." At the adjoining farm of Wellhouse, there is a consecrated spring of water where a lofty cross stood, the shaft of which still exists; but it has been removed to the eastward of the modern village, which, under the patronage of the present noble chief, is now neat and clean, and increasing in size and importance as a shipping port.

Opposite to Beauly, a little to the eastward, on the right bank of the river, stood the old castle of Lovat, where the agriculturist will now find the most ample proofs of the modern spirit of improvement, the present tenant (Mr. France) having himself embanked the river, and reclaimed upwards of eighty acres of fertile carse land. The grounds on both sides are undergoing similar improvements and thorough drainage.

6. On quitting the boundaries of Inverness-shire at the first rivulet, half a mile beyond Beauly, the road enters Ross-shire by the flat and sandy Muir of Ord; [At the north end of the Muir of Ord the road is intersected by that from Kessock and Redcastle, which crosses the plain of Urrray, and proceeds by the bridge of May to Contirt, on the Lochcarron road. (See Branch B. to this Route).] a plain well adapted for the great cattle markets, which, at stated periods of the year, are held here. On its surface we perceive two upright stone pillars, commemorative of a feat of ancient warfare, and connected, it is said, with a prophecy regarding the extinction, of the clan Mackenzie; and to the eastward of it exists an astonishing number of stone circles and cairns. A little way north may also be seen the ruined walls of Cilie-Christ (Christ's Church) chapel, as to the raid and destruction of which, see page 149. Losing sight of the fair country about Loch Beauly, the road soon brings us to the banks of the Conon, a broad stream, flowing through a spacious open valley, beautifully laid out with gentlemen's policies, woods, and large farms. The Conon drains all the inland lakes and mountains to Lochs Rosk and Fannich, within ten miles of the western sea. In front an amphitheatre of high rocky cliffs, half concealed by woods, encompasses a sloping plain, in the centre of which appears Castle Brahan, an imposing building, formerly castellated, the seat on this side the island of the Mackenzies of Seaforth. Their more ancient stronghold was the castle of Eilandonan, in Kintail (as to which see page 196). Earl Colin, Lord Kintail, who was chancellor, and a distinguished statesman in the reign of James VI. and Charles I., and who made occasional progresses through his domains, and held "solemn hunting days," as an old :CIS. before us states, little less imposing than those of royalty itself, built the castle of Brahan, and the castle of Chanonry or Fortrose—his uncle and tutor, Sir Rorie Mackenzie, having about the same time erected Castle Lead in Strathpeffer. If the sight of the Tay recalled to the Roman soldiers the thoughts of their own Tiber, the old avenues of trees, the extended lawns and rich pastures of Brahan appear, in the beginning of last century, and during the previous era of the Commonwealth, to have fascinated the English officers, then garrisoned in the highlands; who, in their letters, talk of their visits here, as of a joyous return from warfare to the rich sylvan scenes of their boyhoods. The amateur in paintings will find several good pictures in Brahan, three in particular—of Queen Mary, Darnley, and Rizzio; and one very large family-piece by West, which, it is said, cost 3000. The road now passes by Conon House (Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, Bart.), and thence across the river to Dingwall, distant about three miles. At the bridge of Scuddel the road from Kessock by the Black Isle joins the post-road, and another here strikes westward, by Brahan, to Contin Inn (five miles off), where it joins the main line to Loch Carron.

7. The town of Dingwall (a name of Scandinavian import, and therefore not altogether familiar to the Gaelic inhabitants, who call the place Inverphaeron) lies in a low and rather damp situation at the opening of Strathpeffer. It contains about 2000 inhabitants; the houses are neat, and the town is supplied with gas and water. The richness of the adjoining country, the hedge-rows and clumps of trees about the town, over which the marsh-loving poplars rear their long columnar stems, bestow on Dingwall not a little of the aspect of one of the sweet villages in the south of England. The powerful Earls of Ross had once a castle, their chief residence, here, the fosse and foundations of which are still visible: and here also they held their courts. Though incorporated as a royal burgh so early as 1227, by Alexander II., the town can boast of no antiquities but its cross, and the pyramidal monument of the Earls of Cromarty. The waters of the Cromarty Firth come close to the town, but, from their shallowness, the mouth of an adjoining streamlet had to be deepened and formed into a canal for the admission of small vessels. Dingwall must have been long a sort of terra incognita to all the world except its own worthy neighbours; for we find in the Council records of Inverness, so late as the year 1733, that an embassage was projected by the magistrates to ascertain the condition of this -burgh. The enterprising and intelligent bailie, who conducted it, reported that there was no prison, but there was "a lake close to the town, which kept people from kirk and market for want of a bridge; that there was no trade in the town, but that there were one or two inclined to carry on trade if they had a harbour." The Council of Inverness treasured up this information in their minutes, and directed their cashier to pay to the bailie 8 Scots for his expenses. Like all the northern towns and villages (with the exception of Cromarty and Wick), the prosperity of Dingwall depends entirely on the agricultural population of the neighbourhood; but from whom also it receives their poor ejected tenantry. Dingwall has the following signs of modern civilization and improvement about it: two comfortable hotels, the Caledonian and National; excellent roads and streets; a good Parish and Free Church schools; two churchgs and an Episcopal chapel; a printing establishment, and weekly newspaper; a prison (forming, with the court-house and county rooms, a fine castellated building, conspicuous on the plain as we enter from the south, and much finer and more comfortable as a residence than almost any of its inmates were before accustomed to), and two bank offices. It has the honour also of being one of the northern burghs entitled to send a representative to parliament.

8. The first stage to Invergordon, along the northern shore of the Cromarty Firth, is fifteen miles long, divided nearly in the middle by the neat village of Evantown, intermediate between which and Invergordon the road passes through Allness, another considerable village. Having the sea on the right, the road passes on the left Tulloch Castle and grounds (Davidson), 31ountgerald (Mackenzie), and thence to the Aultgreat river, the fine estate and large mansion of Foulis (Sir C. Munro, chief of his clan), which, from the long and continued absence of the proprietors, shew sad tokens of degeneracy and decay. At Evantown we enter the beautiful and highly cultivated domains of Novar (Munro), and the tourist should rest a day at the hotel there, in order to examine the valuable collection of paintings in Novar House, and the Aultgraat, or the "ugly or terrific burn," which flows out of Loch Glass, at the northern base of Ben Wyvis, and which, along its whole course, displays an extraordinary succession of cliffs and waterfalls of uncommon character. The stream pours down a slip or shift in the sandstone strata, nearly two miles in length, about a hundred feet in depth, but not above a yard in width at the bottom, and five or six at the top. The opening is, in fact, at top, in many places, quite overgrown and concealed by bushes; while along the rocky channel below, a rumbling torrent is heard rushing on with violence, although invisible from the bank above. At the mouth of the little river just named, is the castellated mansion of Balcony, anciently a residence of the Earls of Ross; and Kiltearn Church, hard by, which still exhibits traces of a fine altar window, was their chapel. Castle Craig, on the opposite side of the Firth, built by one of the old iron-handed Barons of Cromarty, was subsequently altered into a palace, and formed the summer residence of the Bishops of Ross. Novar House, a short way east of Evantown, a splendid modern mansion, filled with the choicest works of art, and attached to a magnificent estate, which was much improved and adorned by the late Sir Hector Munro of Novar, is associated with some of the brightest achievements of British valour in India. It is backed by the fine mountain of Fyrish, surmounted by a set of high upright stones, arranged as an Indian temple. The district here is the locale of the clan Munro, and is called Ferindonald, from Donald, one of the earliest chiefs, who accepted a feu of it from Malcolm II. in the eleventh century. The history of the clan Munro is so far peculiar, that it was always a strongly Whiggish and covenantinq clan. In close alliance with Lord Reay and the Mackays of Sutherland, the chiefs early embraced the principles of the Reformation, and were as distinguished for piety and virtue in private, as for boldness and enterprise in public, and for being in advance of their age in promoting all kinds of improvement. In the armies of Gustavus Adolphus, for continental Protestantism, there were at one time no less than 3 Generals, 8 Colonels, 5 Lieutenant-Colonels, 11 Majors, and above 30 Captains, all of the clan Munro; besides a very large body of subalterns, whose descendants are still resident in Sweden and Germany. The chiefs alive at the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745, did much to suppress those risings, and to prove the extraordinary aptitude of the Scottish Highlanders for the most arduous -and daring military services. Sir Robert Munro of Foulis, who mainly contributed to the victory over the French at Fontenoy, soon after shared the same fate as his friend and companion, the celebrated Colonel Gardiner, having, with his brother Dr. Munro, and many of his friends, perished at the battle of Falkirk. In the same year (1716) his other brother, Captain George Munro of Culcairn, fell in ambuscade at Loch Arkaig, in Lochaber.

9. Ferindonald and the district of Easter Ross which succeeds it, and comprehends all the rest of the county to Tain, and Tarbat Ness, are remarkably rich and well wooded, and may be considered the great granary of the north, more grain (wheat in particular) being annually exported from these districts than from all the other northern counties, excepting Caithness, put together. The soil is either a deep clay, or sharp sandy mould, and all the best farms and estates lie over sandstone and argillaceous ridges which slope gently towards the firth. The country is further distinguished by the number of handsome seats, belonging to a wealthy proprietary of from 1000 to 12,000 of yearly landed income, and who can boast of a most intelligent and highly respectable tenantry, who, until the recent corn-law changes, generally enjoyed a more than ordinary degree of comfort, and moderately-rented farms. They all farm as "high" as their means permit; their lands are being thoroughly drained, and the finest varieties of live stock are everywhere reared. No person with an agricultural eye can fail to he struck with the immense extent, and uninterrupted cultivation and high order of the rich coast of Ferindonald and Easter Ross; although even yet not half the breadth of land has been reclaimed that could be brought into cultivation, were it, as times presently go, a profitable object to do so. The small proprietors are beginning to cry out that their grounds are being thrown on their hands—as with present prices tenants won't engage in long stringent leases; and they themselves have not capital enough to carry on improvements and pay burdens. The greater landholders may stand out better for a while; but as they are almost all absentees, and look only to the returns on their investments—not the minute embellishment and improvement of their estates—there is some danger that the advancement made by the country will stop. In fact, if care be not taken, the Highlands of Scotland may soon become like Ireland—a pauperized excrescence on the empire. And if education he not promoted as a national safeguard and outlet to the unemployed energies of the people, even Celtic endurance may have an end. Government was so miserably misinformed as to the state of feeling on religious matters, and so little credited the sincerity of the people's high resolves, that the Disruption of the Establishment was permitted, and the sacrifices and exertions thereby caused have greatly paralyzed social comfort and improvement. In the more northern counties a small fraction only of the population has adhered to the Established Church—Presbyterianism having, for a considerable time, subsisted there in its most rigidly Calvinistic and democratic form. The pastors, almost to a man, gave in their adherence to the Free Church; and the people, over whom they were wont to exercise a discipline so strict as to be little short of that of Rome, followed them en masse. While the services of the Establishment are avoided, only two or three parishes in Ross are able to support the Free ministers and their various schemes; and unmistakeable signs are now being shewn that the Free Church, as a body, cannot afford to maintain all its parishes, and that several must soon be united together—many of the churches thus becoming only occasional preaching stations. If ordinances are not administered to the poor Highlanders by those whom they respect and love, their minds will become sluggish and indifferent; and should society thus retrograde, government may rue, when too late, their having trusted so much to the forbearance and intelligence of moral Scotland.

10. Two miles west from Allness, a road seventeen miles long, of easy ascent, proceeds through the interior of the country to the eastward of Bonar Bridge, thus saving to the traveller the fatigue of tracing the long round by Tain and the Dornoch Firth. It passes over the great district of Ardross, the earliest duchus of the Earls of Ross, and of the Celtic clan Anrias or Ross; and after forming for a time part of the Ducal possessions of Sutherland, the property now belongs to Alexander Matheson, Esq., M. P. for the Inverness district of burghs, who has begun to improve it with the zeal of a highlander, and with oriental munificence. On a high hank overlooking the wooded Allness water, and vet in the close vicinity of the wild alpine scenes around Lochs Moir (St. Mary's Lake) whence this river issues, and Loch Glass, at the base of Ben Wyvis, he has erected a large castellated mansion, and all around it planted out grounds with forest trees, raised fences of imperishable granite, and brought into culture thousands of acres—all, till lately, mere marsh and moor, and extending to 600 feet above the sea. Mr. Matheson has seldom less than 500 men employed, at an annual outlay of many thousand pounds! The comfortable inn of Stittengham divides the public road between the firths nearly midway, and soon after passing it, a most magnificent view bursts in sight of the Dornoch Firth, with all its bays and promontories, and the beautiful terraces which line it and stretch up from it into the Highland glens. [Below Ardross Douse, a very promising vein of hematetic iron ore has been discovered; and in turning up some of the adjoining grounds, two very curious stone moulds have been found, in which were east the ancient bronze battle axes, generally called Celts, but which have all the elegance of shape and finish of Roman workmanship.]

11. From Allness village and from Roskeen kirk, two miles farther on (where the shell of a very small and ancient chapel, with pretty triple lancet windows, under one headstone, will be seen among a mass of hideous modern tombs), branch or district roads strike off from the post road and extend along the country side over a series of higher gravel ridges and terraces, considerably shortening the distance to Tain, and commanding most extensive views. On this route we pass the beautiful seats of Invergordon Castle (Macleod of Cadboll), Kincraig (Major Mackenzie), Kindeace (Major Robertson), New-more (F. Gillanders, Esq.), Scotsburn, and Balnagown Castle, and enter Tain above the woods of Culrossie (Rose Ross), and past the new Poor's House—a spacious high roofed building, with governor's house, hospital, and airing courts, recently erected by the parishes of Easter Ross, for the accommodation of their paupers, who never were so elegantly or comfortably housed before, but who rather shrewdly regard the place as a sort of state prison.

12. At Invergordon there is an excellent inn, harbour, and a ferry across the firth, which connects the post road with that proceeding through the Black Isle to Kessock. It is a place of considerable size, the houses substantial, and it is of growing importance as a shipping port for the fertile districts adjacent, and possesses two branch banks. From this village Tain is distant about twelve miles, the post-house of Parkhill being about half way, before reaching which we pass the small coast villages of Saltburn, Barbaraville, and Balintrade, all abounding with a poor population of agricultural labourers and country artizans. Beyond these we enter on the Cromertie domains, belonging to the Marchioness of Stafford, whose residence (Tarbat House) lies to the right, close by the sea, and which was erected by the late Lord Macleod on the restoration of the family estates, nearly on the site of one of the castles of the old Mackenzies, Earls of Cromarty, whose representative was attainted in 1715. A dungeon of the old keep still remains with a few large and old yew-trees about it, and the adjoining gardens and avenues of large and aged elms and beech trees are worthy of notice.

13. A short way to the east, and above Tarbat House on the banks of a romantic Highland stream, and with a magnificent lawn in front of it, stands the castle of Balnagown (Sir Charles Ross, Bart., the representative of an ancient branch of the clan), one of the most imposing edifices in the north. It consists of an old western tower, having a very high-pointed roof and numerous chimneys and turrets, with additions of various dates, so characteristic of the old Scottish architecture, acid which, with a slight admixture from the French, has been shown by Mr. Billings (Scottish Baronial Antiquities) to be of a peculiarly stately and national style. An eastern tower, containing the modern public rooms, more in the abbey or ecclesiastical form, was joined on not long ago, but in complete harmony with the older buildings, and the whole has been encircled round the base by the arches of a continuous verandha covered with creepers, and which, in front, has been closed in as a conservatory. All the appurtenances of feudal greatness and modern comfort are to be found within the walls, and the taste of Lady Ross has reclaimed the adjoining dell, which, by nature, was plentifully adorned by forest trees (including some large native oaks and pines), and connected it with a flower garden laid out on a scale of magnificence and size unequalled in the north. Sandstone cliffs overhung with ivy, gushing fountains, a large sheet of water with swans and other aquatic fowl swimming about in it, and the banks of the neighbouring rapid river have all been made to harmonize as parts of a great and beautiful design; and finally, cottages, arbours, islands, bridges, and rustic grottos have here been introduced with a profusion and variety, and on so large a scale, as entirely to do away with the stiffness and petite character so frequently observable in such ornamental work.

Shortly to the eastward of the Balnagown river, the fine fields and fir woods of Calrossie (Rose Ross) succeed; and, emerging from them, the Dornoch Firth, the far extending point of Tarbat Ness, and the blue hills of Sutherlandshire, greet the view.

14. Tain [Inns in Tain.—St. George and Dragon, Ellison's; Bainagowi Arms, Ross; Crown and Anchor, Mackay. Posting is chiefly carried on by double-seated gigs, for which 10s. 6d. is usually charged per day.] (Ting, a court place, Gaelice, Bailed Dhuich, St. Duthus' Town) is an irregularly built burgh, containing nearly 2000 inhabitants, with several new and handsome houses. It is situated on the margin of the Dornoch Firth, the extensive shoals and sandbanks of which prevent it from having a harbour. The fields about the town are rich and cheerful ; and along the sea-beach the inhabitants possess a beautiful promenade of links ground, which, some years ago, was occasionally used as a race course. It extends over a vast flat called the Fendom, or Jlorich more, which is partially cultivated, but on which blown sands are yearly encroaching. From the eastern margin of this plain, a low terrace bank (Mr. Chalmers' 90 feet terrace, though here not quite so high) may be seen skirting the whole shore, and attaining its greatest altitude just below the free manse of Tain, where the sea had cut deep into the boulder clay, and left the drift gravel terrace on retiring as its last margin. This terrace again falls a little to the north of the town, which mainly stands upon it, and at about a mile's distance may be seen, a little back from it, an enormous granite boulder, weighing many tons, on which the name of "the immortal Walter Scott" and the year of his death "1832," have been carved. Both sides of the Dornoch Firth are beautifully fringed with this general terrace, and directly underneath it, throughout the whole district from Dingwall eastwards, the boulder clay is strewn over the inferior rocks to a great depth, and is no doubt the cause of the country's fertility. Everywhere on the surface may be seen water-worn boulders of crystalline rocks (chiefly granites), strongly indicative of the last glacial action to which the island was subjected after its ridges and estuaries had received their present forms.

The ancient church of Tain was collegiate, and dedicated to St. Duthus, who was the "godly Bishop of Ross," between 1209 and 1253. His chapel, a small but very simple and cyclopean like structure (having no altar window, no lights on the north side, and but one small round-headed window in the west, and the southern front being almost entirely obliterated), exists still in ruins on the plain below the town, and it is noted for three great and well-known historical events connected with it. The first was, that King Robert the Bruce (anno 1306), when his fortunes were at the lowest, sent his queen and daughter for safety to the stronghold of Kildrummy in Mar; but they, dreading a siege by Edward I., fled to St. Duthus' sanctuary, whence the all-powerful Earl of Ross, deterred by no feelings of honour or religion, seized their persons, and delivered them to the English. The second event is detailed more minutely by Sir Robert Gordon, in his Earldom of Sutherland, where it is stated, that M'Neill, laird of Criech, and some caterans, having been defeated about the year 1429, by Howatt, laird of Freswick, in Caithness, also fled to St. Duthus' sanctuary at Tam; and that their pursuers, to avoid a direct violation of the fane by dragging them from it, set fire to the heather roof of the building and destroyed them in it, and along with them an ancient and very valuable set of records belonging to the burgh. For forty years afterwards the parish seems to have had no permanent place of worship; but in 1471, St. Duthus' church, which is still standing, was erected on the brink of an escarpment in the middle of the town, being founded by Thomas, bishop of the diocese, for a provost, eleven prebendaries, and three singing boys. The third event we have alluded to, was the pilgrimage of King James V. to St. Duthus' shrine in 1527, when he entered the town barefooted, by the only road about it, and said to have been made for the occasion, and since called the King's Causeway ; but which, from the extent to which it proceeds southwards, we suspect was part of a more ancient and general highway, noticed in old charters which we have seen, as the "via Scoticana." "This church, now a shocking place from neglect and decay, has been (as has been remarked by J. M. N. in his Ecclesiological Notes on the Isle of Man, Ross, &c.) a fine specimen of middle-pointed Gothic, probably the work of the same architect as Fortrose. The cast window is on a very grand scale. Of five lights, it has three divisions, the central one being more acutely pointed. The tracery consists of a large six-foiled circle in the apex, supported on two trefoiled circles smaller than itself. In the north of the choir the windows have been either blocked, or they never existed; on the south there are two, the first of three lights, its tracery a trefoiled circle and double quatrefoil; the second of four lights, simply intersecting —an arrangement which, however disagreeable to us, seems to have found great favour in this diocese of Ross." The nave has but one window, with three plain intersecting lights; the piscina is west of the sedile, and blockaded with a barricade of broken pews. The western facade had a window of four simple intersecting lights; the door, if ever there was one, has been displaced by a huge heavy porch, in the front of which a small recumbent figure of a priest, in eucharistic vestment, has been built upright; and on each side of the window is a small niche, that on the north containing the effigy of a bishop, probably St. Duthus, who seems to have been titular over the whole shire, Loch Duich, on the Kintail coast, as well as this town, being named after him. There is a small detached chapel to the south, probably the original shrine, which seems of earlier work than the church. On the east it has a first pointed triplet under one head; one lancet on the north, and two couplets, under one arch, and a small door on the south. The roof of the church is entire, and the building could still be used if cleaned out, and burying in the vaults prohibited. Even in its ruins how chaste and beautiful is this temple, when compared with the modern parish church—a huge square battlemented building, with frowning towers at the four corners! Hard by St. Duthus' Church, in old times, stood a castle of the Earls of Ross, whose crest (a lion rampant) till lately surmounted the town's cross, which stood at the base of the grand massive tower which leads up to the new and elegant court-house and county buildings. The tower is old—a fine stately erection, with a completely foreign air. It has a central conical spire, and a smaller one at each angle, with small oblong apertures under the eaves of each cone, instead of windows, and the whole is encased within slabs of polished freestone. The present prison lies farther west, an unpretending but secure and sufficiently comfortable building. The earliest charter extant in favour of the burgh, is one by James VI. in 1587, followed by another in 1612, and by a third from Charles II. On the 20th April, 1439, however, a jury of the highest names in the country investigated the antiquity and privileges of this burgh, with the view of ascertaining the contents of the documents which had been burnt ten years before, and they found that Tain had been enfranchised by Malcolm Caenmore, and confirmed in its rights by several of his successors. The retour or verdict of this jury is still extant at Inverness. The neighbouring abbacy of Fearn (six miles from Tain on the way to Nigg and Cromarty), founded by the first Earl of Ross in 1230, is of still greater celebrity than any of the buildings in Tain. [The Abbey Church of Fearn has been converted into the modern parish church, but has been horribly mutilated, and both it and the adjoining chapels, now used as tombs, are fast crumbling into dust. It consisted of chancel, nave, two chapels to the former—perhaps south aisle to the latter—and is nearly wholly first pointed. The east end, which is blocked off for a burying ground of the Balnagown family, has four equal lancets, an unusual hut pretty arrangement. On the north four lancets, and on the south two; and, as in Tain, the piscina is west of the sedilia. It is impossible to say how the conventual buildings were arranged, and the south side of the nave, which has been rebuilt, may have had an aisle, as a little out from it, enclosed now in the Shandwick burying-bound, is a canopied tomb over the recumbent figure of an abbot, having a mutilated inscription in Saxon letters, and which appears to be in its original position. The chapels were rather curious. The north one was entered from the chancel by a middle pointed door, close to which is a very small altar in the recess of the east window. The north side has a middle pointed window of three lights, simply intersecting, but very beautiful; the west one was of two lights, both without foliations. The chapel had five ribs of stone parallel with the axis of the church, and was waggon vaulted. A large portion of this roof has lately fallen in. The south chapel much resembled the other, and had a round headed canopied tomb, or altar, on the south side. The west window, which is remarkably pretty, is middle pointed, of two lights, and the cast is the same. (See Eccl. Notes, p. 59.)] The monks of it were of the Candidus Ordo, of the rule of St. Augustine. Patrick Hamilton, an abbot of this place, was among the first who suffered in this country for favouring the reformed religion; and his writings rank among the purest and most touching of those of the Scottish martyrs. He was burnt at St. Andrews in 1527. The abbacy was annexed to the bishopric of Ross in the reign of James VI. Near it is one of those interesting sculptured pillars, of which there are so many in this quarter, as at Nigg, Hilton, and Shandwick.

Tain, of most of which the Duke of Sutherland is feudal superior, possesses an excellent academy, situated in an airy and healthy part of the town, and commanding a beautiful view of the Dornoch Firth and coast of Sutherland. This seminary is provided with two masters and a rector; and its directors have enriched it with a choice but valuable assortment of chemical and philosophical apparatus. [While at Tain, we would strongly advise the tourist, if an agriculturist or an antiquary, to procure from a bookseller s shop, or from the Kirk Session's library, a perusal of Nos. 21 and 29 of the New Statistical Account of Scotland, which contain very minute and excellent descriptions of the parishes in this neighbourhood, exhibiting their ancient historical and ecclesiastical condition, and the recent most wonderful improvements in the cultivation of the soil. A short excursion to Fearn Abbey and Tarhat Ness lighthouse will be gratifying, not only as they are well worth seeing, but as the latter is near the site of an old Roman monument or land-mark, and a Roman encampment, as well as being close to the ruins of Loch Slin castle, and to the old and very large castle of Halone, successively possessed by the Earls of Ross and of Cromarty. The churchyards of Tarbat and other parishes abound in curious sculptured tombs and crosses; while the parishes of Eddertoun and Kincardine contain numerous cairns, stones of memorial, and dunes or burghs, those very ancient fortresses of a circular form, having stairs and chambers in the openings of the wall, on all of which much light has yet to be thrown by the intelligent antiquary. On the way to and from Tarbat Ness, too, the splendid system of farming is exhibited, so minutely and graphically described in his Statistical Report of 1840, by the learned schoolmaster of that parish.]

15. The strait of the firth called the Meikle Ferry lies three miles west from Tain. A natural mole projecting into the gulf reduces its breadth to less than two miles; but from the shoals in the channel, and its exposure to sudden gusts of wind from the mountains, this ferry is considered as one of the most dangerous and inconvenient in the north. A melancholy and memorable accident occurred here in the autumn of the year 1709, when ninety-nine persons were drowned from the overloaded state of the ferry-boat.—A fair was to have been held on the Ross-shire coast, to which numbers crowded from the opposite shore of Sutherland. A rush for seats in the boat took place; it put off, and was overset in the rapid and agitated current which flows through the middle of the strait. To avoid this ferry, the Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland Roads (assisted by the heritors of Sutherlandshire), in the year 1812, built an iron bridge at Bonar, across a narrow part of the firth, fourteen miles above Tain, at an expense of 14,000. The road, therefore, from this town to Dornoch takes a prodigious circuit, passing on the Ross-shire side through a country of little interest, excepting such as it derives from the view of the distant Sutherland mountains; and its historical associations as having been, from the earliest times, the residence of the great clan Ross (and hence called Ardross, or the Ross' height or district), by whose first Earl the Abbey of Fearn was founded—the field of many sanguinary clan battles, and, prior to these, of encounters with the Danes. Mr. Ross of Pitcalnie, one of the heritors in Kincardine parish, claims to be the representative of the ancient title, and of the chieftainship of his clan. The abbey was first built near the western extremity of Eddertoun, but, owing to the frequent interruptions occasioned by the ferocity of the neighbouring clans, it was removed about twelve miles south-east of that situation, whence it was afterwards styled Abbacie de nova Farina, and the founder was buried there under a tomb, surmounted by a warriors effigy, which is still pointed out as his. Bonar Bridge consists of an iron arch 150 feet in span, and two stone arches of fifty and sixty feet respectively. The fabric is as strong as it is beautiful, for the pillars have repeatedly withstood uninjured the shocks of united masses of ice and timber, and the collision of small vessels driven against them by the tide. The mail coach, which, north of Tain, is drawn only by two horses, till lately used to cross the firth at Meikle Ferry, but it now goes round by Bonar Bridge. There is a good inn at Ardgay, a mile south of the bridge, and another inn on the further side of the strait, where a line of houses, overlooking the water, form the village of Bonar.

[At Ardgay gigs and post-horses may be had, and the tourist, if not a pedestrian, should here make up his mind how he is to proceed, as lie most recollect that, except at Dornoch and Golspie, no conveyances are to be had on hire throughout the county, and, after quitting the latter place, a post-chaise cannot be got nearer than Wick in Caithness. Mr. Gunn's good hotel at I)ornoch, and Mr. 11fIl's excellent one at Golspie, can supply either cliaises, gigs, droskies, dog-carts, or saddle horses, on reasonable terns; but besides these the traveller can only reckon upon the mail coach on the Great North Road, and the mail cars or gigs (each of which now carries five passengers besides the post-boy) on the cross or midland roads. At present the mail car leaves Golspie for Tongue at 5 A. M. every Monday and Thursday, and arrives at Lairg Inn (Mackay, an excellent house), 19 miles, at 8; 20 minutes is there allowed for breakfast. Arrives at Altnaharrow, 21 miles (small inn, Munro), at 12 o'clock noon; and at Tongue Inn (pretty good, Munro), 17 miles, at 3 P. M.—total distance 57 miles, fare 9s. 6d. The car returns from Tongue on Wednesday and Saturday, starting at 7 A. M. and reaching Golspie at 5 P. M.

A branch mail car leaves Lairg for Loch Inver on Monday and Thursday at half-past 8 A. M., reaches Oykill, 5 miles (Anderson's inn, good), at 11; reaches Assent or Innisindamff,17 miles (M'Gregor, a good inn), at 1:50 P.M., and arrives at Loch Inver, 14 miles (Dunbar's, good inn), at 3: 50 P. M.—the total distance being 48 miles, and fare 10s. This vehicle returns on Wednesday and Saturday, starting at 7 A. M.

N.B.--A fair public house will be found at Aultancealgach, and good inns at Kylescou and Scourie, to which latter place a mail car starts on the arrival of the post at Assynt. There is also a pretty good inn (:Mrs. Munro) at Durinish.

A mail car also runs between Tongue and Thurso, dependant on the post's hour of arrival at the latter place, and as the arrangements are expected to be changed soon, we need not here insert those presently observed. To the west of Tongue the bags are carried by a foot runner; and as yet no post goes up Strath Brora, nor from Helmsdale, by the new road through Kildonan to Port Skerry on the northern coast.

Heavy goods and parcels from Leith and London, for the interior of Ross and Sutherland, are generally landed at Invergordon, and brought on by the Tain carrier (Alexander Munro), whose carts pass regularly between these places every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He also sends a cart once a-week to Bonar Bridge, and occasionally to Golspie, and if he finds goods at Invergordon for Dingwall lie sees them forwarded.]

16. The coast road from Bonar Bridge to Helmsdale passes through the most beautiful and interesting, or at least the most fertile, portions of the county of Sutherland. Two miles and a half on from Bonar are the church and manse of Creich; and on the summit of a hill which juts out into the firth, a noted vitrified fort, Dun Creich. Spinningdale, two miles farther on, once a prosperous village, is now a complete ruin. It is beautifully situated on the banks of the Kyle, or Firth of Dornoch. There was a cotton manufactory erected here about fifty years ago, which employed a hundred hands, but the building was accidentally destroyed by fire in 18061. Three miles from the village, the house of Ospisdale (D. Gilchrist, Esq.) is passed on the left. At the road side will be observed a huge erect pillar of stone, fully nine feet high, which, according to tradition, is commemorative of the death, in battle, of a Danish chief called Hospis, whence the name of the place. Approaching Clashmore inn, two miles and a half further on, the traveller passes Skibo, the delightful residence of George Dempster, Esq.—the abode during Episcopal times, of the Bishops of Sutherland and Caithness, and which was remarkable for its excellent gardens and orchards, which are still kept in high order. Clashmore inn is two miles and a half from the Meikle Ferry; and at a little distance on the north road, a branch, one mile long, communicates with the town of Dornoch, which, by a lower road, is five miles from the ferry.

17. From the windows of Mr. Gunn's comfortable hotel, in the centre of a square at the farther end of the cathedral town of Dornoch, the Sutherland capital, and looking westward, the traveller at once surveys the most interesting objects of the place, and has a commanding view of all the streets and houses, which have a comfortable substantial aspect—as being built of a cheerful yellow freestone, and all supplied with ample garden ground. The town is situated immediately in front of a high gravel terrace on a light sandy soil, amid and hillocks of sand, piled up by the sea and the winds, and prevented from drifting only by the bent grass which grows upon them. The whole locality is evidently an ancient sea bottom, and though healthy, the place is exposed to every bitter blast which blows in this cold climate. In approaching Dornoch, the low but old-looking tower of the cathedral and the bishop's turreted castle give it a pleasing and venerable appearance. The streets are remarkably clean, and, unlike what we see in most old towns, they are wide and regularly formed. Although situated at the entrance of the firth, which is an arm of the German Ocean, Dornoch has, in these latter times at least, been little benefited by its proximity to the sea—a bar of sand which stretches across the mouth of the firth, called the "Geyzen Brigs," rendering the navigation 'intricate, particularly to vessels of large burthen. At spring-tides there are four fathoms water on this bar, and with neap-tides seven feet less. The term "Geyzen Briggs" is evidently of Scandinavian origin, bearing a close affinity to the word "Geyzer," which is the appellation given at this day to the most remarkable of the boiling springs of Iceland, and which, in the ancient Icelandic dialect, is descriptive of the hoarse roar and foaming appearance of the water. The noise created by the Geyzen Briggs at particular times, especially during frosty weather, is so loud as to be heard at a distance of many miles: it is the infallible barometer of the old burgh residenter, to whose practised ear its each varied intonation, from the deep muffle to the loud and appalliva roar, bears a sure indication of the coming weather. Dornoch was, in ancient times, the ecclesiastical seat of the Bishops of Sutherland and Caithness, and it consequently had the honour of being one of the fourteen cities of Scotland: the canons (nine in number) also resided here. The palace, or castle, was a large building of most massive structure: in 1570, it was burnt to the ground by banditti, under the Master of Caithness and Jye Mackay of Strathnaver, who made an inroad into Sutherland, and plundered the town of Dornoch. In 1813, the ruins of the palace were in part repaired, and have till lately been used as the county gaol, but the whole have recently been removed, with the exception of the picturesque high western tower, and on the site a spacious new prison and beautiful court house, with record and county meeting rooms, have been erected. In the former, the prisoners are taught to work, and though allowed to walk in the spacious airing court, they are all subjected to the severe discipline of the silent system.

The cathedral was built by Gilbert de Moravia (bishop from 1223 to 1260), who was the near kinsman, if not the uncle of Andrew de 'Moravia, who, at the same time, erected on the opposite side of the firth, the more magnificent minister of Elgin. Being thus related to the great family who had then recently acquired that vast territory, "the southern land of Caithness," which now gives the title to their lineal descendant the present duke, he ruled his church in peace, and repaired many royal castles in the northern provinces. It seems probable that he designed this cathedral church himself, as he caused it to be reared at his own charge, and the Scottish Breviary states that even the glass was made on the spot under his own eye. The constitution which he gave to it is still extant at Dunrobin, and has been printed for the Bannatyne Club. lie appointed five dignitaries and three prebendaries. The church thus built survived to our own times, though much decayed and partly ruined, and like all the fanes in Ross, subjected to the vilest neglect and desecration. It was "restored" about twelve years ago, but as remarked by the writer in the Quarterly Review for June 1849, "the work, unhappily, was not intrusted to competent hands." It consists at present, of chancel, nave, transepts, and central tower; with, as observed in the Ecclesiological Notes, some frightful modern excrescences in the shape of porches and sacristy. The nave, probably, originally had aisles. "The east window is a triplet, and there is a single lancet in the gable. Each side of the chancel has three lancets. The north transept has a small triplet to the north, and two separate lancets east and west. The south transept is the same. The nave has four lancets on each side, and at the west end one of those intersecting, unfoliated, middle-pointed window of four (should be five) lights, so common in this part. The tower is short and thick, resting on arches of two first-pointed order, and crowned with a stunted spire." (Eccl. Note, p. 66.)

Sixteen earls of Sutherland are said to be buried in the south transept (the nave having been reserved for the bodies of lesser families); but at the restoration and conversion of the building into a parish church, the whole chancel was formed into a new tomb for the ducal family, and the top of it railed in as their pew—the piscina being thus almost boarded over, and the altar window being closed up. The parishioners objected to stained glass being again inserted in the windows, but they seem to have had no compunctions at the site of the altar being appropriated to a large full-length statue of the late Duke by Chantrey, which, with a high tablet behind, extending to near the roof, inscribed with a long history of the virtues and lineage of the late duchess-countess, forms a piece of hero worship unsuitable, at least, to such a place. In forming the new vault beneath, a cross-legged effigy of a knight covering a stone coffin was found, containing the remains of Sir Richard de Moravia, brother of the founder. The whole were rather unceremoniously removed from their original resting place, and now lie exposed in the north transept.

Neither the beauty nor sacred character of the cathedral preserved it from the fate of the palace, in 1570, at the hands of the Master of Caithness and his Vandal followers. On the same occasion, also, a monastery of Trinity Friars, established here, fell a sacrifice to their barbarous fury. In the neighbourhood of the town are numerous spots to which tradition has attached an interest, by its tales of the many bloody struggles which were erst so successfully maintained there against foreign invaders,—the details of which, however, our limits forbid us to relate. From a circumstance attending one of these it was that the town received its present name, which Sir Robert Gordon describes as follows :-

"A party of Danes, having effected a landing on the coast, were met by the 'Morfhear Chatt' and his clansmen within a few hundred yards of the town, where a severe contest ensued, in the course of which the earl had his sword broken whilst engaged in single combat with the king or chief of the Danes. In this emergency he seized the hoof of a dead horse, which accidentally lay on the spot, and with one blow killed his opponent. In reference to this event, the town was called Dornoch, (from dcern, a blow, and lach, a horse ;) and the tradition is supported by the fact that the crest of the burgh is a horse's shoe; and a stone in the figure of a cross at a short distance from the town, called Crois-Righ (the King's Cross), further corroborates it, and serves to point out the spot where the occurrence took place." [This cross, which is a very rude one, seems to us to have been of more recent origin, and to be simply a church boundary stone, separating the Bishops' and Chanters' fields, where it stands.] Two other objects pointed out by the inhabitants with great interest are—the socket of the old gallows tree, (unused now for one hundred and twelve years, the last execution having taken place on the 26th of May, 1738, when Donald Mackay from Kirkton, convicted of murder before the Regality Court of Sutherland, was hanged at Dornoch;) and the fatal stone at which their forefathers used to display their holy emnity against the Black Art, by the sacrifice, in an indiscriminate blaze, of all who were supposed to profess it. Here it was that one of the very last instances in Scotland occurred of the burning of a witch, in the person of an old halfwitted woman from Tarbet in Ross-shire, in 1722. "About the town," says Sir Robert, "along the sea-coast, there are the fairest and largest links, or green fields, of any part of Scotland, fit for archery, golfing, and all other exercise. They do surpass the fields of Montrose or St. Andrews."

18. In this neighbourhood, as indeed in every quarter of the county, have been found tumuli, containing stone coffins or chests, enclosing earthen urns with ashes. Sometimes pieces of human bones, and the remains of weapons, and polished stone axes, have been also discovered in such tumuli. These coffins are formed of a lid and bottom, the former supported at the sides and either end by flagstones placed on edge, so as to be closely shut all around. The urns are, we believe, in every instance unglazed, but some were rudely ornamented, though without any inscription, and they evidently are not of Roman construction. Stone circles, Druidical and Danish, also abound in this neighbourhood, and generally throughout the county.

19. About six or seven miles from Dornoch, the road crosses Loch Fleet, an arm of the sea which extends nine miles inland, by a magnificent mole or mound, the last grand work by which the parliamentary commissioners completed the communication between the opposite ends of this island. The waters of the firth are confined and regulated by four sluices and arches on the north side of the mound, which is nearly a thousand yards in length. Altogether the work cost 12,500; but a great deal of land has been reclaimed by means of it. On the southern shore are the ruins of Skelbo Castle, formerly the residence of the family of Sutherland, Lord Duffus; and on the summit of Ben Brachy to the north the tourist will descry the colossal statue of the late Duke of Sutherland, erected by the tenantry, after a model by Chantrey.

20. Thence to Helmsdale, the coast of Sutherland may justly be pronounced as soft and very beautiful. Woods and swelling hills, and farms cultivated on the newest and most approved systems, bedecked with neat houses and offices, everywhere meet the eye, and vary and enliven the journey. Such inns, too, are nowhere to be found within the Highland border. Their attentive landlords and smart grooms, carpeted floors and latticed windows, transport us to happy England; and in short, from his entrance into Sutherland, the stranger perceives everywhere the impress of a master-mind in the device and execution of magnificent improvements. Where formerly there was but one indifferent road, even at the threshold of the ducal castle, no enclosed ground, a few huts of wooden frames thatched with turf, and each accommodating under the same roof the family, with their cattle, 'horses, and pigs,—the rude plough drawn by a squad of garrons and stirks, and the inhabitants dressed rather scantily in home-made woollen stuffs, we now behold a fine mail-coach road, with extensive cross, district, and farm roads, of the best description—the finest short-horned and Galloway cattle, and the most approved breeds of horses—the smaller tenants all living in decent stone and lime or clay cottages with glass windows, and their fare correspondingly better, and habited in long coats of English manufacture, with white shirts, hats, and silk handkerchiefs : while the upper tenantry are all gentlemen, living in good houses two storeys high, and having their wheeled carriages for personal and family use. The establishments of Mr. Sellar, Horvich, on Loch Fleet, and Mr. Craig, Kirkton, afford a perfect treat and study ; and the former, besides being greatly instrumental in raising the Sutherland clip of wool, and the carcass of the sheep to its present high repute, has also reclaimed extensive tracts of ground from the sea, and made corn grow where boats were wont to sail. The sore feelings which, in the bosoms of the native population, accompanied these improvements for years after their commencement, are now happily much allayed, as the people have had most unequivocal proofs of the desire of the noble family of Sutherland to do them good. The removal of the old tenantry from the interior, however, gave rise to most heart-rending scenes, and, conducted by factors and foreigners in blood, ignorant of the language of and prejudiced against the people, it must be obvious to those acquainted with the strength of Highland attachments, that it could have been no easy task to convince the old cottars that they were entitled to no preference over the stranger from the South ; or that they did not possess an hereditary right to a dwelling in the land preserved by the blood of their fathers, among the possessions of their chieftain. The Iate noble Duke, and Duchess-Countess, however, afforded every facility and encouragement to the people to establish themselves comfortably on the coasts, and expended munificent sums on roads and similar improvements; but the change came too suddenly on the settled and cherished habits of the peasantry. The undertaking was a bold one and its accomplishment unavoidably involved, in some measure, a disregard of human feeling; and what followed, we believe, is now universally regarded as a warning to proprietors not to tamper too hastily or extensively with the interests or even the prejudices of any large bodies of people. [One of the most irritating features of the Sutherland clearings was the imprudent observance of a most unnecessary formality—the setting fire to the houses of the ejected tenantry, instead of simply unroofing them. Another circumstance which agitated the people most powerfully, was, that when the Odd regiment of Highland foot was embodied on the Links of Dornoch, at a time of great national alarm, the soldiers' families and relatives were promised to be continued in their small holdings,—a promise which, they allege, was afterwards forgotten; and that arrangements were made for dispossessing them at the very moment these poor fellows were shedding their blood for their country before the entrenchments of New Orleans.] As to the question, whether the country might have been turned to better account than it has been, we believe the noble proprietor is now satisfied that large tracts recently under the plough, will be more productive by being planted with trees, and that the enormous sheep-farms of the interior should be broken down into smaller holdings, and the ancient practice of having on each some corn-land and pasture for cattle as well as sheep, revived. In fact the increase of the population in the little hamlets and hill-sides, next the eastern sea, has become of late so great, and exceeds so manifestly the resources of the peasantry, that the present Duke has seen the necessity of giving them room to spread again towards the interior, and has thus announced his intention, when the current leases are expired, to create a number of farms not exceeding 50 of yearly rent, besides having a body of wealthier tenantry, paying from 300 to 800 a-year. The crofters just now pay mere trifles, and in the villages, even of Dornoch and Golspie, excellent building-stances, with large gardens attached, may be had for from 5s. to 10s. a-year. It is generally understood that the present and late noble Dukes have for a long time expended the whole rental upon local improvements, a fact, even with their munificent outlay, most anomalous and unexampled.

The improved aspect of the country as yet extends to no great distance from the coast. Beyond the first line of hills, which in general are not so much as two miles distant from the sea, innumerable chains of wild bleak mountains present themselves, covered only with heath, and but occasionally interspersed with green valleys. These mountains, without any change of appearance or variety of vegetable productions, proceed quite across the county to the rocky shores of the Northern Ocean.

21. Mr. Hill's inn and posting establishment, at the thriving village of Golspie, is decidedly the best and most commodious in the extreme north, and in a most romantic situation. A mile and a half above the inn there is a beautiful cascade, to which a winding path leads through the wood, and thence westward to the monument on Ben Brachy, past the resident factor's beautiful house at Rhives. Private drives have here been commenced, above and out of sight of the post road, on which we hope her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen may yet find health and enjoyment. From Golspie double-seated mail-gigs, cars, already alluded to (page 401), proceed twice a-week to Tongue and Lochinver by Bonar Bridge.

Close by is Dunrobin Castle (" the Erie of Sutherland his speciall residence," to quote the words of Sir Robert Gordon the family historian, who wrote about 1630), "a house well seated upon a mote hard by the sea, with fair orchards, wher ther be pleasant gardens, planted with all kinds of froots, hearbs, and floors, used in this kingdom, and abundance of good saphorn, tobacco, and rosemarie, the froot being excellent, and cheeflie the pears and cherries." This castle was founded by Robert, second Earl of Sutherland, A.D. 1097 (whence its name Dunrobin), and is beautifully surrounded with trees, in which are concealed two older burghs or dunes attributed to the Danes. The view from the top of the tower, the paintings in the public rooms, and especially the series of old Scottish portraits, and the elegant breed of Highland cattle, for which the parks of Dunrobin are celebrated, rendered the old castle, as it stood some years ago, worthy of admiration.

[Whether the Catti were of German or original Gaelic extraction, and whether as strangers, they had an allotment of land from the Scottish King Galgacus, for their having assisted him against the Romans, in the districts " be north of the Morays, which almost lay void of inhabitants, and was by them called CArrs ;" or whether, as Highlanders contend, the name was derived from the victory of one of their early leaders over the wild cats which infested the country—are questions that may well be left to the learned. One point, however, is clear, that Caithness proper was long ruled by Scandinavian darls, whose sway extended over great portions of Sutherland, (or Caithness citra Montem), and especially in the interior and north-west coast, and that the Gaelic diaormor, or, as he is sometimes called Thane of Sutherland, held the very circumscribed bounds between the Ord and the Oikcl Water, which were sometimes completely overrun by the Norwegians, and the people almost extirpated. "There are, consequently," (says Mr. Skene on the Highlanders of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 301), "no Highland clans whatever descended from the Gaelic tribe which anciently inhabited the district of Sutherland; and the modern Gaelic population of that revion is derived from two other sources. In the first place, several of the tribes of the neighbouring district of Ross, at an early period gradually spread themselves into the nearest and most mountainous parts of the country, and they consisted chiefly of the clan Anrias or Ross. Secondly, Hugh Freskin, a descendant of Freskin de Moravia, and whose family was a branch of the ancient Gaelic tribe; of Moray" (though by many he is believed to he of a Flemish or Anglo-Saxon race), "obtained from King William the Lion, the territory of Sutherland although it is impossible to discover the circumstances which occasioned the grant." Freskin was undoubtedly not the descendant of two previous Earls of Sutherland, claimed by the family, as to the first of whom it is alleged that his Thanedom was converted into an E'arl2om by Malcolm Caenmore about 1057, but the family power and possessions became extensive and permanent in consequence of the severe personal vengeance taken by King William on Harold and the insurgents of Caithness, (who were continually molesting the Scottish provinces), lege lalionis, by which their "blood was utterly extinguished." The vigorous government of Alexander II., who "planted his stanfard on the cliffs of Thurso," seems to have secured the separation and independence of Sutherland from the northern Jarldom, and by that monarch it was afresh erected into an earldom. Agreeably, however, to Gaelic customs, the Earl has always been styled in his own country Moror Chatt, thus excluding the Scandinavian term Jarl, and the Scottish titles off' Thane and Earl; and the succession continued uninterruptedly in males, under the surname of Sutherland, for the lifetime of thirteen earls, when, about the year 1500, the title and estates having devolved on a female, Lady Elizabeth, married to Adam Gordon, Lord Aboyne, (second son of George, Earl of Huntly), the family honours passed to the Gordon, by whom they were handed down to the late estimable and talented Duchess-Countess, the last of the pure old Scottish blood. Throughout their history, the Earls of Sutherland were remarked for their attachment to the church, and for the personal piety of several of them. They early embraced the change of opinions introduced by the Reformation, and afterwards assumed those of the Presbyterian party. It is a remarkable fact, that there is not a single Roman Catholic to this day within the county. With Lord Rcay and the Baron of Foulis, they twice (in 1224 and 1229) raised 3000 followers, who went over to Germany and were highly distinguished in the armies of Gustavus Adolphus. They were leaders in the Covenanting army in the north of Scotland; and the clan boast that the Earl of Sutherland took part in the celebrated General Assembly at Glasgow in 1638, where, however, he seems to have had influence enough to have saved the Bishop of Sutherland and Caithness from excommunication, along with the rest of the Episcopal prelates, on his submitting himself to Presbyterian rule; though Keith says he was "deprived;" and the Earl also subsequently protected in their livings several of his parochial clergy, who were admitted to be very pious men, on their nominally relinquishing their episcopal orders. The family were uniform supporters of Whig principles, and among the best friends in the north of the Hanoverian dynasty; for the Earls of Sutherland took part in 1715 and '45, as well as previously, against the pretensions of the house of Stuart. The superficial extent of their prodigious territories in the North is little short of 2000 square miles.]

But now it has become, by recent additions, one of the most princely palaces in the kingdom, and undoubtedly one of the largest in Scotland. Among the multitude of high towers and fretted pinnacles the old castle is almost lost, except on the seaward side, where its humble but dignified old tower and plain front form the western corner of the building. East of these a magnificent elevation of four storeys, springing from a terraced basement, and pierced with rows of oriel and plain windows, beautifully finished with varied tabling, forms an extensive frontage which rises to a great height, and over which a number of towers, turrets, and minarets, reach up into the sky, backed on the north by the lofty and very steep roof of the great entrance tower, which is at least 100 feet high. The general character of the whole building is that of a very large French chateau or German palace, with details in the scroll work and roofs of the chambers, borrowed from the best old Scottish models. The grand entrance and staircase are lined within with polished Caen stone; but the exterior is all of a hard white silicious freestone from Brora and Braambury Hill, on the Duke's own property. Internally the castle is arranged into suites of apartments, each containing a complete set of sitting rooms and bed chambers, and named the Duke's—the Argyle—the Blantyre apartments, and those of other members of the family; and each suite has its own peculiar style and colour of decorations and painting. The grand seaward front has been appropriated to her Majesty, whose apartments are separated from the rest of the palace by a wide gallery or passage. They are done up in the most costly and elegant manner, with silk tapestry hangings in some of the rooms instead of papering. From the oriel window of her bedroom, her Majesty will command, in one view, the whole circuit of her dominions, from Ben Wyvis in Ross round by the Alps of Inverness, Moray, and Aberdeen shires, and across the firth almost to the Ord of Caithness, which is concealed from view only by a projecting headland; while the mid-distance is beautifully varied by the yellow sands of the Dornoch Firth, and the rocky promontory and high bright lighthouse on Tarbat Ness.

Extensive as the buildings are, the entire design will not be finished until another tower or two and the family chapel are added, and in the former of which we presume it is intended to have a great feudal receiving room ; for the present main dining room, large though it be (and which is beautifully pannelled with oak, with large paintings inserted in the compartments and processions in the frieze), seems yet rather small for the reception of all the company—the tenantry, and native retainers of the noble Duke and his guests, who on state occasions may be convened to enjoy his hospitality. The furniture, now being placed in the different rooms, with the paintings and decorations,' is of the most chaste and beautiful description, and it is pleasing to know that all the carpets and hangings have been cut out to order by the young women of the neighbourhood. Two very beautiful and effective mantle-pieces of great size and height, representing the Sutherland arms and their supporters, in alto-relievo, are also the work of a local sculptor, Mr. Munro, a native of Inverness, a protege of her Grace the Duchess, and who has been extensively employed by Mr. Barry in the carved work of the new Houses of Parliament.

Below the castle the old garden and orchard occupied the level space extending to the sea beach. It was till of late, like the gardens at Ospisdale and Skibo, celebrated for its peaches, apricots, nectarines, figs, and almonds, which all ripened on the open wall. These have now been removed, and the whole plain is being converted into a flower garden, with walls and flights of steps leading up to the basement storey of the castle. Should the whole design, as planned by his Grace, ever be completed, including the chapel, landscape gardens, drives, and pleasure grounds, the entire cost will not fall far short of half a million sterling!

22. Brora, five miles and a half from Golspie, is a little village, for some years dependent on the salt and coal works carried on in its vicinity; now chiefly supported by the produce of the quarries of beautiful, though rather brittle, freestone found in its neighbourhood. The former have been discontinued. To the geologist this place presents the most interesting appearances perhaps in Scotland, as regards the occurrence of coal and its associated minerals in the immediate neighbourhood of granite. The formation with which the coal is connected is the lias and oolite, the principal bed of coal being about two hundred feet beneath the surface. The freestone or sandstone which composes the upper bed, and which abounds in organic remains, is adapted for building; and at Iielmsdale, and other places not far distant, a fine secondary limestone, called cornstone, occurs.

[Referring to the geological notices of Moray and Inverness shires, at pages 344 and 33i, we shall complete them by the following short description of the Brora Coal Field .—On passing the granitic mass of the Ord of Caithness from the north, we conic immediately upon a series of oolitic and liar deposits, a great portion of which has been tilted up against the granite without the intervention of the old red sandstone, and which is also brecciated, establishing thereby the elevation of the granite subsequent to the formation of the oolitic rocks. These newer deposits stretch along the coast of the firth, and are found not only in Sutherlandshire, but also in front of the gneiss and older sandstone mountains of Ross-shire, their most recent beds appearing in the promontory of Tarbat Ness, which was flanked on the sea-side by exterior layers of liar shale, and limestone; the remains of these being still visible at Cadboll, Geanics, Shandwick, and Ethic.

Proceeding westward from the Ord, the Brora coal field first merits our attention. It forms a part of the deposits which, on the coast of Sutherlandshire, occupy a tract of country of about twenty miles in length, from the Ord to Golspie, and three miles in its greatest breadth, divided into the valleys of Brora, Roth, and Navidale, by the successive advance to the coast of portions of the adjoining mountain range which hounds them on the west and north-west. The first of these valleys is flanked on the south-west by hills of red conglomerate, which pass inland to the north-east of Loch Brora, and give place to an unstratified granitic rock, that forms the remainder of the mountainous boundary.

The highest beds at Brora consist of a white guartzose sandstone, partially overlaid by a $ssilc limestone containing many fossils, the greatest number of which have been identified with those of the calcareous grit beneath the coral rag; and along with these, several new species have been discovered. The next beds, in a descending order, are obscured in the interior by the diluvium which is generally spread over the surface of these valleys, but are exposed on other places on the coast; and they consist of shale, with the fossils of the Oxford clay overlying a limestone resembling cornbra,Yh and forest warble, the latter associated with calciferous grit. To these succeed sandstone and shale, containing belemnites and ammonites, through which the shaft of the present coal-pit is sunk to the depth of near eighty yards below the level of the river 13rora. The principal bed of coal is three feet five inches in thickness, and the roof is a sandy calcareous mixture of fossil shells, and a compressed assemblage of leaves and stems of plants passing into the coal itself. The fossils of this and the superior beds are identical, for the greater part, with those which occur in the strata above the coal in the east of Yorkshire; and of the whole number of species collected, amounting to upwards of fifty, two-thirds are well-known fossils of the oolitc, the remainder being new species.

The plant of which the Brora coal seems to have been formed is identical with one of the most characteristic vegetables of the Yorkshire coast; but differs essentially from any of the plants found in the coal measures beneath the new red sandstone. It has been formed into a new genus by Mr. Konig, and is described by him under the name of Oncylogonatuse; but A. A. Brongniart regards it as an Equisetunt, which he has figured and named is q uisetum columnare.

The Brora coal may therefore be considered, from its associated shells and plants, as the equivalent of that of the eastern moorlands of Yorkshire, and in no respect analagous to the coal fields of the south of Scotland.

At Loth, Iielmsdale, and \avidalc, shale and sandstone overlie calcareous strata resembling the cornbrash and forest marble; and these are, in many cases, dislocated where they are in contact with the granitic rock, and distorted where they approach it. The base of the entire series above mentioned is seen, at low water, on the coast, near the north and south Sutors of Cromarty, where the has with some of its characteristic fossils, is observable, resting upon the sandstone of the red conglomerate —the latter in contact with the granitic rock.

Braninbury and Hare Hills, near Brora, composed of the upper beds of the oolitic series, owe their forms most probably to denudation; a supposition recently confirmed by the exposure on their surface of innumerable parallel furrows and irregular scratches, both deep and shallow: such, in short, as could scarcely be produced by any other operation than the rush of rock fragments transported by some glacier or current. These appearances resemble very closely those in other places described by Sir Janice Hall and Dr. Buckland; and show, here, that the course of the current which gave rise to them observed a direction by the compass, from north-west to south-east. (See the papers in the Geological Society's Transactions for 1827, &c., by Sir Roderick J. M. Murchison, and Rev. A. Sedgwiek.)

At Inverbrora, Mr. Robertson of Elgin was enabled to detect the remains of a deposit of the wealden, having the usual characteristic organisms of that fresh-water formation, and resembling especially those in the wealden clay of Morayshire.]

23. An excursion of a few miles up the Strath and Loch of Brora, will be found very interesting, as the scenery is beautiful, giving place gradually, as we proceed, to wild and heathy mountains. The rock Carrol, on the south shore of the loch, is precipitous for nearly four hundred feet; and opposite it, four miles up, is Killin, where anciently there was a cell or chapel, dedicated to St. Columba, who was truly the most extensive patron saint in the Highlands. From it is evidently derived the name of the beautiful residence, (two miles farther on), Kilcalmkill, which was the seat of a respectable branch of the clan Gordon, descended from Adam Gordon, Dean of Caithness, uncle of Lord Aboyne, who married Countess Elizabeth, daughter of the fourteenth Earl of Sutherland. Two miles farther north is Cole's Castle, an ancient Pictish fortress of most prodigious strength, situated on a rock on the Black Water or river of Strathbeg. It is circular, and built of uncemented stones, with chambers in the walls, and it seems to be as entire as Dun Dornadilla in Strathmore.

24. The distance from Brora to, Loth Church, one of the neatest in the county, is six or seven miles ; and thence two to three miles to Port Gower, where are a neat little village, a good inn, and the parish school. In the secure little bay of Helmsdale, two miles from Port Gower, a harbour has been formed for the herring busses, which collect here in great numbers, reckoning it the safest station on the coast. The village is thriving and populous, and possesses a sub-branch bank. From Helmsdale a road branches to the left for Kildonan Kirk, about six miles off, whence it is continued north to Melvich inn, about twenty miles west of Thurso. The stage is just thirty miles long, and twenty miles of it uninhabited ; and the only comfortable consideration is, that the road is good. Adjoining Helmsdale are the ruins of a romantic old castle, once the seat of an extensive proprietor of the name of Gordon. On occasion of some unfortunate broil, he had to fly with his family under the silence of night ; but the ship which conveyed them foundered at sea, and they were never heard of.

25. Between Helmsdale and Berridale (nine miles and a half) the road passes, at an elevation of 1200 feet above the sea, along the acclivity of the granitic Ord of Caithness, which is the commencement of a long chain of mountains running north-west, and separating Caithness from Sutherland. The whole of this stage is occupied by the Ord, and its huge ramifications ; but the passage of these, though tedious, is now comparatively free from danger. Formerly the road proceeded along the edge of a tremendous range of precipices, which overhang the sea, the very sight of which was enough to frighten both horse and rider. Even the modern descent to the valley of Berridale, where the beautifully situated little inn of that name occupies the centre of a chasm hollowed out among the mountains at the junction of two alpine streams, is exceedingly abrupt. [It is considered unlucky for a Sinclair to cross the Ord on a Monday, because it was on that day that a large party of the name passed on their way to Flodden Field. where they were cut off to a man.] Descending to the inn, Langwell (Donald Horne, Esq.) appears on the left, within the edge of a thriving plantation. Here, towards the sea, we behold the commencement of those grand cliffs and stacks, or detached pillars of rock, which accompany us thence round all the coasts of Caithness. A few trees, the most vigorous in the county, ornament this spot, and were planted under the eye of the justly celebrated Sir John Sinclair, Bart. Between Berridale and Swiney (twelve miles and a half), the country again presents a sudden change of character. The mountains recede inland, and give place to bleak, open tracts, partially cultivated ; and a barrier of high, shelterless precipices, washed by the ocean, extends on the right of the observer to the distant horizon.

26. Caithness may be described as a broad, undulating plain, devoid of trees, but covered with stunted heath—in some places, also, by deep peat mosses. The dwellings of its peasantry very generally till of late were, and still in part are, poor hovels, built of turf and stones in alternate layers, and thatched over with straw or sods, which are kept down by straw ropes thrown across the roof, to the end of which flat stones are attached as safeguards against the violence of the winds. Yet Caithness is not a poor county ; and its agricultural products are greater than those of some others of the northern shires. Its advance in all sorts of agricultural improvements, and in rearing the finest stocks of cattle, has of late years been prodigious ; and the last Highland Society's Exhibition at Inverness proved that Caithness henceforth will not yield the palm to any of her neighbours. Its gentry are hospitable, polished, and well educated. The ruins of their ancient towers crown the cliffs of their rugged shores, as if still watching the approach of the northern pirates ; and some of these are even yet habitable. The Scandinavian origin, or at least admixture of the people, is portrayed in their tall forms, and soft fair countenances ; the names of places, and the language generally spoken, show undoubted marks of a foreign extraction ; and nowhere in the county, except on the borders of Sutherland, are Gaelic sounds to be heard. At Dunbeath, seven miles and a half from Berridale, there are an ancient village, and the ruins of Dunbeath Castle.

27. Three miles from Dunbeath, we reach the church and manse of Latheron. On the north of the manse, a branch road strikes off to the west for Thurso, by Achbreanich, where there is a tolerable inn, six miles from Latheron, and sixteen from Thurso. On this road there is a good view of the hills called the Paps of Caithness, behind the Ord ; and of Braal Castle, surrounded with wood, an interesting spot a mile to the left. It surmounts an eminence on the banks of the Thurso, about five miles from that town, near the junction of this branch with the Wick and Thurso road; and is not a little deserving the attention of the antiquary, as exhibiting a style of building apparently but a stage in advance of the round burghs or towers. The form here is square, and cement is used; but the disposition of the apartments is much the same as that of the galleries in the burghs. They are contained in the wall itself, and open into the inner court or area, and communicate by passages and staircases similarly situated. These rooms, of which there is one on each side, have, however, an external window, and are moreover furnished with a stone bench round the inside. Oldwick Castle is a similar, but rather ruder structure still.

28. Wick lies fifteen miles farther north than Swiney inn, two miles past Latheron; and Thurso, at which the mail-coach road stops, is twenty miles beyond Wick.

Like many mighty cities, these two burghs contend with one another for pre-eminence. Thurso, though more beautifully situated, and withal the genteeler of the two, must yield to its rival in the bustle of life and mercantile wealth. Wick lies low, and in a dirty situation; and, but for the stream which passes through it, and the sharp breezes of the north, the smell of its fish and garbage would be intolerable. Though the bay is long and dangerous, and hemmed in on both sides by high rocks, it is the resort of a great many fishing vessels; and in the proper season the town swarms with crowds of Lowland Scotchmen, fair Northmen, broad-breeched Dutchmen, and kilted Highlanders. No sight can be more beautiful than the look-out, on a fine summer's morning, from the seaward cliffs near the town, on the surface of the ocean, bespangled with, perhaps, from 500 to 800 herring boats, either sailing in lines to or from their stations, or busied hauling in their nets, or rowing round them to guard and watch the indications of their buoys. Larger vessels gliding on among this small craft seem like stately swans surrounded by a flock of lively sea-gulls; and here and there the broad pennon of a revenue cruiser, and the swift light-rowing boats of the preventive service, remind us that no small degree of caution and order is required to be maintained among the numerous little objects dancing on the waves before us, like the motes in a sunbeam. During the fishing season, the busy hand of industry is tried to the utmost, and man, woman, and child, are obliged to bear "watching, and labour, and pain." Wick carries on its trade principally through a small village, Staxigo, situated a short way to the eastward, near the lofty promontory called Noss-head, and which possesses a convenient harbour. Its own harbours are improving; and its suburb, called Pulteneytown, planned under the auspices of the British Fishery Society, and built, in 1808, on higher ground than the old town, is a regular and handsome village. The population of the parish was, in 1831, 9580, being an increase of 3137 since 1821 ; and, in 1841, the numbers fell to 9346. The following statement respecting the Wick herring fishery for 1829 and 1840, will give an idea of the bustle of the place during that season of the year, and the great value of the fishery. The apparent falling off latterly is owing to the resort of many boats to Helmsdale:—

Owing to the establishment of fishing-stations on other parts of the coast, the attendance of boats at Wick (which at one time amounted to about 1200) has fallen off, and perhaps fortunately so for the morals of the people; but the success of their exertions varies exceedingly in different seasons. The following comparative statement will give a tolerable idea of the whole take of herring for two years on the east coast of Scotland. We extract it from the John-o'-Groat Journal, which is published at Wick:—

QUANTITY OF HERRINGS CURED.

The cost of a boat, with outfit of nets, is about 120. A drift of nets consists of from sixteen to twenty-six, each about sixteen fathoms long and four deep. The fisher generally receives from 9s. to 10s. a cran or barrel for the herrings; and a crew (four in number), when proprietors of the boat, sometimes make 20, 30, and even 50, a-head. The wages allowed for about two months' service—from the middle of July to September—are 3 to 7, and a peck and a-half of meal a-week. Poor widows and girls are employed to gut and pack at about 4d. per barrel; they make 20s. to 3 a season. Whisky is consumed among all to a most enormous and demoralising extent.

Wick and Pulteneytown present numerous proofs of growing prosperity in the style of the newer houses and the public buildings, as the town-house and jail, the town and county hall, new church, bank, and gas-work. Wick has been incorporated as a royal burgh since 1589; and, since the Union, it has been associated with Kirkwall, Dornoch, Tain, and Dingwall (and, since the late Reform Act, with Cromarty), in returning a member to Parliament. The Sheriff-courts, since 1828, by order of the Court of Session, are held in Wick, having been then removed from Thurso, where they had previously met from time immemorial. The Custom-house establishment has also been removed to Wick, which likewise possesses a Chamber of Commerce; and a steamer of 200 horse-power touches here from Leith once a-week, between March and November, on its passage from that port to Aberdeen, Kirkwall, and Lerwick in Shetland. It carries passengers, stock, and goods, and has been of immense use both to town and county. Two trading smacks ply once a-fortnight between Leith and Wick; and an almost constant intercourse is carried on with London, Hull, and other English ports, by means of the vessels which are continually passing along this coast.

We subjoin, in the foot-note, a sketch of the early history of the county, from the last statistical account of the parish of Wick; and we also beg to refer, on the same head, to our historical notices of Orkney.

["There can be no doubt that the aboriginal inhabitants of the district which now forms the parish of Wick, were of Celtic origin. This is proved by several names of places and rivulets, such as Auchairn, Altimarloch, Drumdrug, which are significant in the Gaelic language.

"About the year 910, Harrold the Fair-haired, a Norwegian King, having expelled the pirates who infested the northern seas, from the Orkneys, carried the war into Pictland, where he was defeated with great slaughter. On his return to Norway, be granted the Orcadian islands to Ronald, a powerful Norwegian chieftain, to comfort him for the loss of Ivar, his son, who had fallen in battle. Ronald made over this grant to Sigurd, his brother, who, having speedily reduced the Orcadians, passed into Caithness and subdued it, with Sutherland and Ross, under his authority. Under a succession of Norwegian earls, a very close and frequent intercourse subsisted after this event for ages, between the north of Scotland and Norway; whence numerous bands of Norwegians successively came and settled in Caithness. Surnames of Norwegian extraction, as Swanson, son of Swen, Manson, son of Magnus, Ronald, Harold, Re., are frequent in this parish. The termination ster, softened from stadr, a steadi enters into the names of Canister, Ulbster, Stemster, Lanster, Thuster, Bilbster, Sihster, &c., shews also the prevalence of Norwegian colonization, an colonisation within the district now forming the parish of Wick. . . . "Caithness continued subject to Orcadian earls, of Scandinavian extraction, till about 1330, when, owing to the failure of the male line, this earldom went by marriage into other families, and the power and influence of the Norwegians passed away.

"These various marriages brought the Sinclairs, Sutherlands, and Keiths, into the parish of Wick; and subsequent events gave rise to the following couplet, which is yet often repeated:-

Sinclair, Sutherland, Keith, and Clan Gun,
There never was peace whar thae four war in."]

29. Besides the parliamentary road to Thurso, a district road, twenty-seven miles long, leads along the coast to Houna and John-o'-Groat's House. On the way there is an extensive sweep of sands to pass over, a ferry on Waster Water, and several bleak hills. The view of the cliffs next the sea, however, is always grand and interesting; and the castles of Oldwick, Keiss, Girnigo, and Sinclair, with the tower of Ackergill, &c., perched like eagles' nests on their summits, render these cliffs still more picturesque and magnificent. These "dark places of the earth" were truly full of horrid cruelty. Thus, about the year 1370, George, Earl of Caithness, apprehended his own eldest son, and confined him in the dungeon of Castle Girnigo, where, after a miserable captivity of seven years, the unfortunate youth is believed to have died of starvation. Ackergill is still habitable, and is well worthy of being inspected, and may give a good notion of the rude strongholds which frowned along this ironbound coast. " It is a square tower, 65 feet in height; and in breadth, at each angle, 45 feet, having three storeys, each of them arched, the walls above 10 feet thick at the butts of the arches. It stands on a rock close to the sea, a few feet above the highest water-mark, and is defended by a moat twelve feet deep, and equally broad, extending along each of its angles, excepting the one facing the sea." But among the many fearful stories with which the history of Caithness abounds, one of the most extraordinary relates to so recent a period as 1680. In the summer of that year, 700 Argyle Highlanders suddenly appeared in Caithness, in support of the king's patent of the earldom, which had been granted three years before to Campbell of Glenorchy, afterwards created Earl of Breadalbane, and whose pretensions were resisted by George Sinclair of Keiss. So lawless and peculiar was the condition of Scotland at that time, that here we see a subject arming his vassals, and waging war in .support of his private legal claims! The infatuated Sinclairs, instead of encountering their foes at the Ord, trusting to their superior numbers, awaited their arrival in the vicinity of Wick, and sat up all night drinking and carousing. Still reeling from their potations, they attacked the Campbells next morning at Alt-a,-Jfhairlich, two miles west of Wick, where their enemies were advantageously posted, and who received them steadily. The Caithness men were routed, and pursued for many miles with great slaughter. It was on this raid that the well-known quick steps, "The Campbells are coming," and " The Braes of Glenorchy," obtained their names.

30. Who has not heard of the inn of Houna, "that pretty little circle on Mr. Arrowsmith's map," so poor and humble, yet withal so hospitable and cheering to the way-worn traveller; or of the stacks of Duncansbay, the Berubium of Ptolemy; of John-o'-Groat's house; of the rocky shores and shell-banks of the Pentland Firth I At the famed John-o'-Groat's is to be seen merely the indented site of a house on a small green knoll close to the beach. John was a worthy Dutchman, who settled here about the year 1500, and whose sons or kinsmen having disputed for precedency at table, he contrived the expedient of erecting an octagonal room with a door on each side, and a table to correspond, that each member of the household might be able to enter at his own door, and sit as at the head of his own board. The bold adjoining headland of Duncansbay, with its numerous deep and lengthened chasms or ghoes, and curious detached stacks or columns of rock in the sea, is well worthy of inspection.

31. Authors and artists, poets and historians, have vied with one another in delineating the dangers and the wonders which beset the northern coasts of sea-girt Albion. But who has yet fully described the life and majesty of that vast body of moving waters—this eastern gulf-stream of the Atlantic—the force of all its united tides hurrying on with the same impulses and in the same direction which here pour through the narrow opening between us and the Orcades? The Pentland Firth is the throat connecting the Atlantic and German Oceans. From the Hebrides and Cape Wrath, the flow of the former comes rolling on in one uniform unbroken stream. As it approaches the Eastern Sea, it is dashed and buffeted against the projecting headlands of Caithness and Orkney, which contract its channel, and send it spouting on between them with increased velocity and the utmost agitation. No wonder, then, that this strait should be the dread of mariners, or that vessels unfortunately entering it in a calm, should be kept for days together tossed about and carried from side to side by the conflicting currents and the alternate ebbs and flows, while, with contrary winds, the passage is still more tedious and difficult.

[In the evidence submitted to the House of Commons, along with the Report of Sir Edward Parry on the Caledonian Canal, many curious anecdotes are related, showing the detention which vessels often are subjected to in attempting to pass from one side of the island to the other through the Pentland birth. Thus, a house in Newcastle despatched two vessels on the same day, one for Liverpool by the north of Scotland, and the other south by the English Channel and the Cape of Good Hope, for Bombay in the East Indies. The latter reached its destination first! We also happen to know that, not many years ago, a shipowner at Inverness sent off a vessel on Christmas day for Liverpool, and which had to go "round about," as the Caledonian Canal was then undergoing some repair. On the 1st of January she got into Stromness harbour in Orkney, along with a fleet of other traders, and there they lay weather-bound till the middle of April, when the Inverness skipper was the first to venture out in prosecution of his voyage!

Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the mainland, and on which a fine beacon light has been erected, is one of the best places for viewing the commotions of the Pentland Firth, and the wild and sublime scenery by which it is surrounded. The late Statistical Account of the parish thus describes the changing appearance of the sea. "The current in the Pentland Firth is exceedingly strong during spring tides, so that no vessel can stem it. The flood-tide runs from west to east at the rate of ten miles an hour, with new and full moon. It is then high-water at Scarfskerry (which is about three miles distant from Dunnet Head) at nine o'clock. Immediately as the water begins to fall on the shore, the current turns to the west; but the stren4 h of the flood is so great in the middle of the firth, that it continues to run east till about twelve. With a gentle breeze of westerly wind, about eight o'clock in the morning the whole firth seems as smooth as a sheet of glass, from Dunnet head to Hoy Head in Orkney. About nine the sea begins to rage for about 100 yards off the Head, while all without continues smooth as before. This appearance gradually advances towards the firth, and along the shore to the east, though the effects are not much felt upon the shore till it reaches Searfskerry Head, as the land between these points forms a considerable hay. By two o'clock, the whole firth seems to rage. About three in the afternoon it is low-water on the shore, when all the former pheno- mena are reversed,—the smooth water beginning to appear next the land, and advancing gradually till it reaches the middle of the firth. To strangers the navigation is very dangerous, especially if they approach near the land. But the natives along the coast are so well acquainted with the direction of the tides, that they can take advantage of every one of these currents to carry them safe to one harbour or another. Hence very few accidents happen, but from want of skill or knowledge of the tides."]

32. The road from Ilouna to Thurso, about eighteen miles distant, proceeds along' the margin of the firth. The views which are obtained in different parts of it, of the Isles of Orkney, the Pentland streams, and the projecting points of the mainland of Caithness, are so grand and varied, that no one who can command his time should quit the country without seeing them. The improvements of the late Sir John Sinclair, of James Traill, Esq. of Ratter, and James Smith, Esq. of Olrig, in regard to agriculture and the planting and reclaiming of waste lands, deserve particular notice; and much may be gathered from an examination of their estates, as to the management of lands exposed in a similar manner to the bitter northern blasts, and the blighting influence of the sea breeze. These gentlemen have demonstrated how capable the peasantry are of being improved and rendered comfortable, and at the same time of adding to the wealth of the proprietors; and indeed the statistical accounts of the whole of this district show that the poorer tenantry require only moderate-sized holdings, leases of a fair endurance, with prohibitions against squatting and subsetting, and ready access to markets by roads and steamers, in order to acquire independence, and by their increase in numbers, to be a blessing instead of a burden to the country. At Castlehill, Mr. Traill for many years employed a number of labourers in quarrying pavement for the southern cities and towns, and besides occupying about 4000 tons of shipping, from three to four hundred thousand square feet of stone are annually exported.

33. Thurso, or Thor's Town, a burgh of barony holding of Sir George Sinclair as superior, and containing about 2400 inhabitants, is little more than half the size of Wick, and is an irregularly built town. It contains, however, some neat freestone houses in the suburbs, and the church is a building highly creditable to the taste of the heritors. To the east of the town stands a venerable old castle, the residence of Sir George Sinclair of Ulbster, Bart., and farther east, Harold's Tower, over the tomb of Earl Harold, the possessor at one time of half of Orkney, Shetland, and Caithness, and who fell in battle against his own namesake, Earl Harold the Wicked, in the year 1190. Close by the town, on the west side, are the ruins of a once extensive castle, a residence of the Bishops of Caithness, alluded to in Branch F. For the credit of Thurso, we are glad to say that it now possesses an excellent new inn. Great improvements have been projected in the neighbourhood of this town; but, besides being too far distant from the east coast of Scotland, and too near the Pentland Firth, the Bay of Thurso is itself too dangerous to admit of its ever being a resort for shipping; and, in consequence, the bounds to the increase of the town are almost already known. But who is he who finds himself on its beach, and thinks of the town or its resources? The lengthened waves thundering along the shores of the spacious crescent-shaped bay, arrest his attention as their curling crests break upon and splash up the sandy slope at his feet. The white streak and the hollow moan of each billow, as it yields up its power, lead away the eye and ear to the sides of the hay, formed of precipitous rocks, and terminated by the high bluff promontories of Holborn and Dunnet, over the top of which, though upwards of 400 feet in height, the spray dashes during storms, and on which even the sea pink and the short tufted grass hardly obtain a footing. In the distance, the prodigious western precipices of IIoy, which form, perhaps, the most magnificent range of cliff scenery in Britain, with the outlines of the Orkney hills, compose a most splendid termination to the seaward view. The traveller should not fail to walk as far as Holborn Head, where the majestic mural and fissured cliffs, with the Clett, a huge detached rock, the boundless expanse and heaving swell of old Ocean, and the clouds of screaming sea birds, afford a perfect epitome of this style of scenery. The sail across the firth from Thurso to Stromness, in Pomona, by the west of Hoy, is about twenty-four miles in length, and should not be attempted except in fine steady weather. A boat costs fifty shillings, with something additional if required to wait. By the east end of Iloy, the navigation is longer, but comparatively free from danger.

In the branch route from Tongue, in Sutherlandshire, to Thurso, will be found a succinct account of the road between these two places. A mail-car, carrying four passengers, besides the driver, leaves Thurso every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, for Tongue (distance, 46 miles), returning the intermediate days. The road to Houna, a distance of 18 miles, is now much improved, and fitted for a gig or carriage.


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