The coastline of Orkney and the many beaches across our islands are always a pleasure to visit but, dare I say it, a trip across the Pentland Firth also holds many wonderous views.
Durness is the most north westerly village in the Scottish mainland. As you can see from this picture it is an extremely popular stopping off point on the NC500. This image was taken in September and at the height of the summer the coastal viewpoint is much busier than in this photograph.
Despite it being so busy, few of the NC500 travellers venture onto the beach which is beautiful.
Unsurprisingly this beautiful coastline was inhabited by the Neolithic people – our first farmers.
Salvage excavation was carried out on an archaeological site, discovered during the North Sutherland Coastal Zone Assessment Survey in 1998, in dunes at Sangobeg, near Durness in northern Sutherland. The excavation, conducted in 2000, uncovered the fragmentary remains of probable Norse-period settlement, including stone walling, a hearth and occupation deposits that had been truncated by erosion. Sealed beneath the Norse-period remains was the burial of a child of indeterminate sex, aged between 8–10 years, who had been placed in a flexed position on a bed of quartzite pebbles and covered with a mound of clean sand, capped with larger quartzite stones. The burial was dated by radiocarbon to 170 cal BC–cal AD 30 (GU-12535). A Pictish burial and Late Norse/Medieval settlement at Sangobeg, Durness, Sutherland
The area suffered greatly during the Clearances when people who had lived on the land since the times of those first farmers were forcibly removed – to make way for sheep. Not everyone cleared went quietly into the night – some did try to resist. Today that resistance, The Durness Riots of 1841, forms part of a walking trail.
The Durness Riots of 1841 were caused by a clearance when the women of Ceannabeinne township defied the Sheriff Officer sent to deliver the summons of eviction and subsequent disorder occurred at the village inn in Durness when a second attempt was made, causing the officers to be again run out of town. In the first attempt, in August, 1841, a party of sheriff officers and constables were attacked by a mob of about 400 people who were armed with weapons, at the inn of Durine in the parish of Durness. The whole party were injured by the mob and some of them narrowly escaped with their lives. Their eviction papers were also burned by the mob in the presence of the leading sheriff officer who was of the surname Campbell. The second attempt was made by the police super-intendant, Phillip Mackay, but he was treated in a similar manner and returned home. Mackay made another attempt with a stronger force on 17 September 1841, again consisting of a party of sheriff officers and special constables, arriving the following evening. They were observed approaching and eventually 200 to 300 local people had gathered, all armed with weapons, to oppose them. The mob made a rush to seize Mackay, but they were defeated and Mackay and his men made it to the inn. However, the local mob now with an additional 100 people, smashed the windows and broke down the doors. The constables were all dragged outside and given similar treatment as before, being totally dispersed. The sheriff officers who were in another room were then also dragged outside and dispersed. The locals were later threatened that a military force would be raised against them and did not rise up again. Wikipedia
So much remains undiscovered about this most spectacular part of Scotland now mostly just a brief stop over point for the many vehicles roaring round the NC500.