More Sutherland Etchings from the Duchess

The 22 engravings of the north and west coast of Scotland by the Duchess of Sutherland, the companion page to this one, are extremely rare. Less so, but still uncommon are those found in a volume published privately in 1807, titled Views in Orkney and on the North Eastern Coast of Scotland. Taken in MDCCCV and Etched MDCCCVII. Only 90 copies are said to have been issued. The book contains 43 engravings, and a text, which is compiled from Dr Barry's History, and Wallace's and Brand's Descriptions of  Orkney. On another page, for completeness sake, I will add the images of Orkney, but I will limit myself to those of Caithness and Sutherland on this page. They all depict views on the  north-east coast.

Duncansby Head (as it is now known) forms the far north-eastern corner of Scottish mainland. John O' Groats on the north coast can just be made out in the distance. Duncansby Stacks can be seen on the far left in this view. 

Freswick Castle lies to the south of Wick.

Known now as Scaraben, this peak is one of four summits, as can be seen in the engraving.  Morven is the highest, at 706m., then comes Scaraben (626m), Maiden Pap (484m), and Meall na Caorach (397m). Whilst none of these rivals the mountains of the west coast in height, their position, rising above the comparatively flat Caithness terrain, makes them a distinctive formation.

Wick was one of the key ports when the Herring Industry was at its height. Thousands of fisherman, many from Europe, would descend on the town when the Herring arrived.

Hempriggs Stacks are the home to a number of sea birds in the nesting season. William Daniell, on his voyage around the coast sketched them, and wrote that "the first of the two is a tremendously lofty natural bridge, over which it might seem the very extreme temerity in any human being to venture; and yet the sons of Sir Benjamin Dunbar did not hesitate to ascend and place themselves in positions which would cause an involuntary shudder in persons unacquainted with the habits of men constantly residing on the coast."

Helmsdale Castle.

In 1929, a new bridge was opened at Brora (see my sub-page under 'Roads to the North.')

The Ord forms a solid granite mass 2 miles north of Helmsdale. Until the road improvements of the early 19th century, it proved an obstacle to many travellers. Bishop Forbes noted in 1762 that it was so steep "that no machine can be drawn up it by any cattle[sic] whatsoever, unless it be empty; and even then, there must be some sturdy fellows at the back of it pushing it forward to assist the horses..."

Sadly, even the ruins of Helmsdale Castle no longer exist: they were removed in the 1970s to make way for improvements to the A9.

Looking north along the coast from south of Helmsdale.

The Duchess provides three images of Dunrobin Castle, which is perhaps fair enough as it was her home. In the text she states that nine counties can be seen from the tower.

The Duchess suggests in the text that the Thane's Cross was erected to commemorate a battle fought in 1259 between William, Earl of Sutherland, and Danish and Norwegian forces. The Danish commander was said to have been killed by William using a horse's leg, his sword being broken. Presumably the Druid and Battle stones of Strathflete date from an earlier time?