Melness, a Crofting Community on the North Coast of Sutherland"

Dr. James Coull
Scottish Studies, 7, (1963).

Used by Kind Permission of Dr Coull

To help you use these pages of this Study on Melness there are the following links - "yellow text" Click to check the References page and Maroon text with Mouseover Popup explanations of words and terms.

View of the tail of Loch Eriboll Photo © Iain Morrison 2006

On the north coast of Scotland, and flanked by the broad inlets of Loch Eriboll to the west and the Kyle of Tongue to the east, lies the peninsula of the Moine. On the north-east part of this peninsula lies the district of Melness (Fig. I) @ Page 2 Fig 1 Click Here which is the home of a crofting community. The district illustrates the problems of modern crofting - problems which are basically those of adapting a traditionally communal way of life, evolved under subsistence conditions, to the economic individualism and cash economy of the industrial age. Here, as elsewhere in the Highlands, the old way of life underwent modifications and began to lose its separate identity through the ties forged with the Lowlands after the Forty-five.

The dependence on home-produced food, a fundamental binding force in the community, started to be undercut in the 1880's when cheap imported flour began to replace the old staples of potatoes and oat-meal; and the upheavals which accompanied and followed World War I gave the old way its death-blow.

In Melness there is a farm and a number of croft clusters: these are townships of varied size, but all share a big area of common grazing, and Melness is in effect one community. The district is part of Tongue parish, for which statistics have been used, although this includes other crofting districts on the eastern side of the Kyle and several farms as well.

View of the Moine, Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll Photo © Iain Morrison 2010

The Moine has a rectangular outline, and stretches some 10 miles north to south and 6 miles east to west. Its surface for the great part is an old planation surface; ranging from 400 to 700 feet in elevation, and covered with blanket peat (the name Moine means peat moss). On it there are a few upstanding residual masses, and it falls sharply on all its seaward slopes. In the Melness area this slope is less steep but more complex in form: the landscape is varied with small ridges and valleys, and by the Strath of Melness - a bigger and deeper valley which runs north to south with the rock strike.

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Additional Information and Images

Charles Edward Stuart also known as Bonnie Prince CharlieBonnie Prince Charlie

The Jacobites were the supporters of King James VII (of Scotland) and II (of England) and his heirs.

James VII and II ruled Britain from 1685 to 1689 but because he was a Roman Catholic he was replaced by his daughter Mary and her husband, the Dutch Prince William of Orange. Those who continued to support the exiled James (‘Jacobus’ being the name in Latin) became known as ‘Jacobites’.

In 1689, the Jacobites were opposed by the Williamites, or Whigs, those Britons who supported the Protestant cause and would not tolerate a Catholic kingdom.

The three main Jacobite risings were the 1689 rising led by ‘Bonnie Dundee’ - John Graham of Claverhouse, and quickly quelled; Mar’s Rebellion, or the ‘Fifteen’ (1715-16), provoked by the death in 1714 of the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, and the accession of King George I; and the ‘Forty-Five’ (1745-46), when Charles Edward Stuart - ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ - led a Scots army against the Hanoverian dynasty.