"SUTHERLAND, in the extreme N. of Scotland; is bounded W. and N. by the Atlantic Ocean, E. by Caithness and the Moray Firth, and S. by the Dornoch Firth and Ross and Cromarty; greatest length, NW. and SE., 63 miles; greatest breadth, NE. and SW., 60 miles; area, 1,297,846 ac.. pop. 23,370. The N. and NW. coasts are bold and rocky, some of the cliff scenery being remarkably grand, but along the Moray Firth the ground is generally low and sandy. The surface consists chiefly of mountainous moorland, varied by numerous straths or narrow valleys which open towards the sea. The highest summit is Ben More Assynt, alt 3273 ft. The principal streams are the Oykell, Brora, Helmsdale, Halladale, Naver, and Hope. Of numerous lochs the largest are Lochs Shin, Assynt, Naver, Laoghal, Hope, and More. The angling in the lochs and streams is good, especially for trout. The coast fisheries are considerable. The amount of arable land is comparatively very small. There are extensive deer forests, and sheep are grazed in great numbers. The co. comprises 13 pars. with part of 1 other, and the parl. burgh of Dornoch (part of the Wick District of Burghs). It returns 1 member to Parliament.

Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887


Sutherland Towns and Parishes

For Sutherland townships unconnected to parishes, see the list of Miscellaneous places mentioned in the 1868 gazetteer.

For Sutherland places mentioned in the 1868 gazetteer, see Where is it in Sutherland.


Archives & Libraries

The Highland Archive Service is responsible for locating, preserving and making accessible archives relating to all aspects of the history of the geographical area of the Highlands.

The Sutherland Collection - the Sutherland Papers are the massive archive created by the Leveson-Gower family, Marquesses of Stafford and Dukes of Sutherland. It is the single most important archive collection relating to past life in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. However, because of the wealth and activities of the family, the collection is not just important locally and regionally but also nationally and internationally. It contains many details of their estates in England and Scotland, in the form of scanned images of correspondence, which reflect the changing political scene of the times.

The collection contains hundreds of thousands of documents, volumes and maps created and preserved over 10 centuries. It was purchased by the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service in 2006 with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, a wide range of organisations, grant-awarding bodies, businesses, local societies, and very many private donors.

Information on national archives and links to lists of local archives and libraries can be found on our Scotland Archives and Libraries page.



  • "Bibliography of Caithness and Sutherland", John Mowat, Published 1910, London (Viking Club)
  • "The book of Ross: And Sutherland and Caithness", Donald MacDonald, Published 1932, Dingwall


General advice on census records and indexes can be found on our Scotland Census page.


Church Records

General advice on parish registers throughout Scotland can be found on our Scotland Church Records page. For information on records for a particular parish, please see that parish's page (where available).


Civil Registration

Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths began in Scotland on 1st January 1855. For details of these records and indexes to them, see our GRO tutorial and our Scotland Civil Registration page.


Court Records

Records of testaments, inventories etc. are held at the National Records of Scotland.



See the entry for Sutherland in the National Gazetteer.

See the entry for Sutherland in Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland.


Military Records

  • Rolls of Honour and War Memorials (monuments) are one good resource for family historians, but need to be addressed with some caution - it should not be assumed that they are either complete or accurate. Memorials (and Rolls of Honour) were created at the local parish level after asking the local inhabitants whose names should appear. Thus:

    - Some names may have been omitted, for a variety of reasons.
    - Some names may appear on more than one memorial.
    - Some names may be misspelled, or given names transposed.
    - Some people may be listed as killed in action, but were not.
    - Some people may be listed who were not in the service at all.
    - Some people may have been confused with others of a similar name.

    - A Roll of Honour may sometimes list the names of all who served, not just those who died.
    - Some of the original records may have been incorrect, for a variety of reasons.
    - Some (more recent) research may be incorrect.


The Highland Family History Society covers this county.



For a social and economic record of the parishes of Sutherland, together with masses of statistical material, see Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account of Scotland" which was compiled in the 1790s. The account was reprinted in facsimile form in 1979 by EP Publishing Limited of Wakefield, England, and volume 18 deals with Sutherland.

Follow-up works to this were the "New Statistical Account" (also known as the "Second Statistical Account") which was prepared in the 1830s and 1840s; and more recently the "Third Statistical Account" which has been prepared since the Second World War.