- source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- source: Family History Library Catalog
- the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia
As registration county, lieutenancy area and historic local government area, Caithness has a land boundary with the equally historic local government area of Sutherland. Otherwise it is bounded by sea. The land boundary follows a watershed and is crossed by two roads, the A9 and the A836, and one railway, the Far North Line. Across the Pentland Firth ferries link Caithness with the Orkney Islands, and Caithness has also an airport at Wick. The Pentland Firth island of Stroma is within Caithness.
The name was used also for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom--a constituency which lasted from 1708 until 1918. Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is now entirely within the Highland council area of Scotland.
See also The Gazetteer for Scotland
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
The Caithness landscape is rich with the remains of pre-historic occupation. These include the Grey Cairns of Camster, the Stone Lud, the Hill O Many Stanes, a complex of sites around Loch Yarrows and over 100 brochs. A prehistoric souterrain structure at Caithness has been likened to discoveries at Midgarth and on Shapinsay. Numerous coastal castles (now mostly ruins) are Norse in their foundations. When the Norsemen arrived, probably in the 10th century, the county was probably Pictish, but with its culture subject to some Goidelic influence from the Celtic Church. The name Pentland Firth can be read as meaning Pictland Fjord.
Numerous bands of Norse settlers landed in the county, and gradually established themselves around the coast. On the Latheron (south) side, they extended their settlements as far as Berriedale. Many of the names of places, and not a few of the surnames in the lowland parts of the county, are Norse in origin.
For a long time sovereignty over Caithness was disputed between Scotland and the Norwegian Earldom of Orkney. Circa 1196, Earl Harald Maddadsson agreed to pay a monetary tribute for Caithness to William I. Norway has recognized Caithness as fully Scottish since the Treaty of Perth in 1266.
The parish of Reay was originally partly in the county of Caithness and partly in the county of Sutherland. However in 1891 the parish boundaries changed so that the fairly substantial portion of the parish of Reay that was in Sutherland was disjoined and became part of the parish of Farr in Sutherland. The boundary line between the counties did not change.
Notes for the Highland Council Area and the Western Isles Council Area
The local archives are held by The Highland Archive Service which is based in Inverness with branches in Stornoway, Fort William and Caithness. It is "responsible for locating, preserving and making accessible archives relating to all aspects of the history of the geographical area of the Highlands."
Family history societies and historical associations covering the Highland Council Area and the Western Isles Council Area are:
These associations publish their aims on their websites as well as a list of publications. In many cases the publications are also available through the Scottish Genealogy Society (see below).
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
- Scotland's People This is a pay website providing vital statistics and census data for all of Scotland with original images. There is a description at Scotland under Genealogical Resources.
- See the publications lists of the above Family History Societies.
- The FreeCen Project--Scotland has a searchable (not browsable) transcription for each of the counties in the area. Nairnshire and Caithness have the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 complete. Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty have 1841 complete with some work on 1851 and Sutherland has not completed 1841.
Transcriptions of Gravestone Inscriptions
- The Scottish Genealogy Society provides a series of monumental inscriptions either in print in booklet form or on CD for each of the counties in the area (Caithness, Inverness-shire, Nairnshire, Ross and Cromarty, and Sutherland). Some of the booklets cover only one graveyard, others cover a group. Prices vary. In many cases the coverage is of pre-1855 stones only--this is because gravestone inscriptions are often used by family historians as death registration equivalents in the era of the Old Parish Registers (when deaths were not universally recorded).
- Sutherland cemeteries are covered in Pre-1855 tombstone inscriptions in Sutherland burial grounds by A S Cowper & I Ross, published at Edinburgh in 1989 by the Scottish Genealogy Society.
- There are no specific notes for gravestone transcriptions for either Inverness-shire or Nairnshire in GENUKI. However, the Scottish Genealogy Society lists booklets for both counties.
Sources for Emigration Records
- Hebrides People have a database containing lists of people who emigrated to North America from a number of parishes in the Western Isles.
Further Sources of Reference
Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.
- GENUKI has articles on each of the counties. These may not appear up-to-date but a query to the organizer made in August 2014 was answered within a few hours and followed up by an amendment to the article.
- The Gazetteer for Scotland provides an article on each of the old counties of Scotland. The tabs on the right provide more information, plus a map of the county within its surrounding area, with parishes highlighted and linked to more information. Each parish within the county also has a set of webpages which follow the same design.
- The FamilySearch Wiki article on Scotland provides information on research in Scotland in general and links to pages for the individual counties and from there to some individual parishes.
- The National Library of Scotland have a website devoted to maps from the 1600s right up to the present. Comparisons of modern-day and old maps of the same place can be made. From the home page click on "Find by place" and then follow the instructions on the next page. Once you are viewing the place you want, use the slider <----> at the top of the map to compare the layout of roads and the place names of smaller areas, perhaps even farms, with the landscape today. The website takes some getting used to. The One-inch 2nd edition, Scotland, 1898-1904 OS is a series of maps with the parishes delineated. Each of these maps cover an area of 18 x 24 miles and will zoom to comfortable reading size with a couple of mouse clicks on the map itself. Unfortunately, they are not geo-referenced, and it is necessary to go to the OS One Inch 1885-1900 series to locate places by latitude and longitude.
- The Statistical Accounts for Scotland In the 1790s and again in the 1830s, the ministers of the all the parishes of the Church of Scotland were asked to provide a description of their parish to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The original account request included 160 questions to be answered. These accounts are available in print in 20 volumes and are also online where it is freely available to browse. The browsing portal is below the viewing area of most computer screens. Scroll down to "For non-subscribers" and click on "Browse scanned pages". This brings you to another page on which one can enter the name of the parish in which you are interested.
- Excerpts from The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885 are provided by Scottish Places. Selections from Groome and other gazetteers from the 19th century are also found on GENUKI.