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LOTH & KILDONAN parishes

 
KILDONAN - Ach-na-huai (KI-A)
Jun 1, 2006

ACH NA H-UAI, Kildonan. Our code KI-A
Far up Strath Kildonan opposite the east side of Loch Achnamoine, on the Kinbrace to Syre road you will find this tiny little burial ground. Known as the Field of the Graves there used to be a rude and homely church or meeting house here. Donald Sage was missionary minister here from 1815 to 1818.

Christine Stokes and Sheila Mackay visited this burial ground in June 2006. Took a lot of finding and we were struck with the utter loneliness of this place. Bleak in winter, we feel sure, but stunning in summer.

There are only three grave stones left here. Whether there were more we can only wonder.

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KILDONAN - Achness (KI-B)

ACHNESS BURIAL GROUND, Kildonan
(KI-B)
A remote burial ground on Forestry Commission ground, close to the east end of Loch Naver. A small low house used as a church once stood here and was ministered to by Donald Sage around 1815-1818. A poignant memorial lies on the slopes of the hill above Grummore Broch: the scattered stones that are the remains of the township of Grummore; the first village in Strathnaver to be cleared of its people by Patrick Seller on Monday 13th June 1814.
Another memorial of bitter memory is the graveyard at Achness the cornfield by the cascade, near to where the loch narrows before it rushes north into the River Naver. There was a church here, but it was dismantled after the clearances. The timbers were floated up the loch and built into the Altnaharra Hotel.
Many thanks to both Marilyn Hoyte, Canada and Don Grant, UK, for the photographs and Don’s help with transcriptions.
Please note that with all my inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

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KILDONAN - Altanduin (KI-C)

Altanduin Burial Ground, Strath Kildonan
Our code KI-C
A small burial ground which stands in the private Borrobol estate in Strath Kildonan. Donald Sage ministered here from 1815 – 1818. The church, which no longer stands, was said to be a long low house with seats made from forms set at random on the damp floor – see Memorabilia Domestica. The Borrobol estate stands in a remote and beautiful region covering 23,000 acres in the heart of Sutherland. Close to Loch Ascaig, the River Friadh and Kinbrace. The burial ground is in a field on right of private estate road approximately four miles passed Borrobol Lodge. There are only four stones here.

Photographs kindly donated by Colin MacDonald. Many thanks Colin.

Please note that with all our inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

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Kildonan - Kildonan church (KI-D)
Jan 1, 2002

Kildonan Churchyard, Strath Kildonan
Our code KI-D
This burial ground was transcribed & photographed by Bill O’Brien, Brora, in the summer of 2002. Christine & Sheila also visited in June 2006
Please note that with all our inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

Kildonan is the site of one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Britain. The church still standing in the Strath of Kildonan, was the place of worship for many in times gone by. When visiting Kildonan, one is struck by the total tranquillity of the place. On a warm summers day, there are few places on earth to surpass it. The church has now been restored and is used as a place of worship during Gatherings of the Clan Gunn. Generous donations are made by the Gunn Societies in North America and Nova Scotia, to assist with its up-keep.

Kildonan is of course known for the mass clearances which took place here. Once the home of many hundreds of families it later became the home of sheep. The Strath of Kildonan winds from Helmsdale, on the east coast of Sutherland, to the bleak settlement of Kinbrace 18 miles inland, and on another five miles to Loch Badanloch, the source of the Helmsdale River. Driving northwest up the Strath, once you have left the outskirts of Helmsdale behind there is barely a handful of inhabited houses until Kinbrace comes in sight. It was not always so. Kildonan was savagely cleared in the years between 1813 and 1819 - so savagely that these clearances provoked the first recorded dissent against the evictions anywhere in the Highlands.

At the beginning of the clearances large areas of upper Kildonan was entirely cleared, and the people offered tiny allotments of poor land on the cliff tops near Helmsdale (Badbea), or sent into exile in Canada - the choice of many of the younger people.
In 1819 the last inhabitants were cleared from lower Kildonan. This time there was no dissent; the people had learned by bitter experience that neither government, nor law courts, nor their church, would speak a word or lift a hand in their defence. They went quietly into exile; to Glasgow; to whatever patch of land they might be offered to scrape a living. Some went to join their kinsmen across the Atlantic. After the events of 1813, there had been further evictions and emigrations in 1815, when 700 Kildonan Clansfolk left for the Canadian settlements along the Red River and in Glengarry County. They had a hard time and had to fight both the harsh Canadian winter, Cree Indians and renegade Frenchmen. They called their new home Kildonan.

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Kildonan, Helmsdale Cemetery (KI-E)
Jan 1, 2003

HELMSDALE BURIAL GROUND
Our code KI-E

Helmsdale, from the Norse Hjalmundal, Dale of the Helmet,
is a large cemetery which is still in use today.

Photographed and transcribed by Joan Murray, Helmsdale, 2003. A few photographs were taken by Christine in 2004.

Please note that with all our inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

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Kildonan - KINBRACE (KI-F)

Kinbrace Burial Ground, Strath Kildonan
(also known as Achanneccan)
Our code KI-F
Kinbrace is a small, peaceful place at the centre of a wide landscape of moor and field. It is recorded as early as 1060 when it was home to Helga and her son Harold, the mistress and illegitimate son of Hakon, the Orkney Jarl.

This burial ground was photographed by Bill O’Brien, Brora, in summer 2002.

The following inscriptions cover all the stones here in Kinbrace with the exception of a few very recent ones.

Please note that with all our inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

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KILDONAN - Navidale (KI-G)
Jan 1, 2002

Navidale Burial Ground, Kildonan
(St Ninian’s cemetery)
our code KI-G

Photographed by Bill O’Brien, Brora, in summer 2002
Our gallery also shows some recent photographs taken on a glorious evening in 2006 by Christine Stokes
It was at Navidale in the early 5th century that Saint Ninian, Apostle to the Picts of Scotland, established a Christian community. These early missionaries had an unerring eye for a pleasant and strategic spot. On a fertile spit of land, flanked on either side by burns and sheltered from the harsh northerly winds, Saint Ninian built a chapel where the ancient churchyard now stands, and in a wide ranging circle around it erected a wall of turf and stone (still to be seen in places) within which fugitives from justice and injustice alike might find sanctuary from their enemies.
Sir Robert Gordon, writing in the early 17th century, tells us that in 1556 the chapel was burned, probably in an outburst of reforming zeal, by an invading force from Strathnaver, and within living memory blackened stones were occasionally found when graves were being dug. All that is now to be seen are the ancient baptismal fonts.
Today there are only about 54 stones here although it is believed that there were many more burials than stones.

Please note that with all our inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

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LOTH PARISH, Loth Churchyard (LO-A)
Jan 1, 2003

LOTH CHURCHYARD
This is the only known burial ground in Loth parish but it is worth checking Kildonan parish also.

Prior to the Clearances Loth church was the Kirk for the coastal area. The precentor led the psalm singing here in the absence of any instrument. Seating arrangements round the table enabled communicants to sit as a family. An unusual arrangement.

This churchyard was photographed and transcribed during 2003 by Joan Murray, Helmsdale.

Please note that with all our inscriptions all Mc and Mac names are shown as Mac.

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