Sutherland

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Sutherland (In Gaelic the area is referred to according to its traditional areas: Dùthaich 'Ic Aoidh (NW), Asainte (Assynt), and Cataibh (East). However, Cataibh will often be heard used as referring to the area as a whole) is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic administrative county of Scotland. It is now within the Highland local government area.

The county town, and only burgh of the county, is Dornoch. Other settlements include Lairg, Brora, Durness, Embo, Tongue, Golspie, Helmsdale, Lochinver and Kinlochbervie.

The administrative county became a local government area in 1890, and was abolished in 1975, when the Sutherland district was created as one of eight districts of the Highland local government region. The region was created at the same time as the district. The district was abolished in 1996, when the region became a unitary council area.

The Sutherland name dates from the era of norse rule over much of the Highlands and Islands, especially in the north and west, which was perhaps at its zenith in the early 11th century, when Sigurd the Stout was jarl of Orkney. Suðrland was then land to the south of, or in the south of, Norse Caithness. As a Scottish county, however, Sutherland also includes land which is to the west of the county of Caithness.

Sutherland,especially the great North-West corner of the County, traditionally known as Strathnaver, was the home,of the powerful and warlike Clan Mackay, and as such was named in Gaelic, Dùthaich 'Ic Aoidh, the Homeland of Mackay. Even today this part of the county is known as Mackay Country, and, unlike other areas of Scotland where the names traditionally associated with the area have become diluted, there is still a preponderance of Mackays in the Dùthaich.

As well as Caithness to the north and east, Sutherland has North Sea (Moray Firth) coastline in the east, the historic county of Ross and Cromarty (formerly Ross and Cromarty) to the south, and Atlantic coastline in the west and north.

The inland landscape is rugged and very little populated, being Scotland's 5th largest historic county, but with less population than a medium-size lowland Scottish town. It stretches from the Atlantic in the west, up to the Pentland Firth and across to the North Sea. The sea-coasts boast very high cliffs and deep ords in the east and north, ragged inlets on the west and sandy beaches in the north. As would be expected, much of the population is based in seaward towns, such as Helmsdale and Lochinver, which until very recently made much of their living from the rich fishing of the waters around the British Isles. The remote far north west point of the county, Cape Wrath is the most north westerly point in Great Britain.

Transport links are poor: the A9 road main east coast road is challenging north of Helmsdale, particularly at the notorious Berriedale Braes, there are few inland roads, the east coast Far North Line north-south single-track railway line and no airports. Much of the former county is poor relative to the rest of the United Kingdom with few job opportunities beyond government funded employment. There are no colleges or university presence in the former county either.

Sutherland is perhaps best known for its saddest memory: The Highland Clearances: a long folk-memory of people driven out of their homes in the 18th century by poverty, starvation, desperate clan chiefs, ambitious sheep farmers and rich landowners. Sutherland suffered more than most parts of the Highlands, scattering people with the surname Mackay far and wide across the globe.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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