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one should not venture out into the Pentland Firth in boats steered and rowed by Gaels or Highlanders; for, in the event of a storm, all steady command is speedily lost, and gives place to anxious irresolution. The descendants of the old Norwegians, on the contrary, who are familiar with the sea from childhood, and amongst whom lies Wick, the most important fishing station in Scotland, show themselves precisely in the hour of danger the worthy sons of their forefathers, the ancient Vikings. It is only the man at the helm who speaks, and he gives his orders in a few decisive words. He is punctually obeyed, and the misfortune is said to be rare, if his coolness, joined to his knowledge of the sea and its currents, do not gain the victory over the violence of the storm and the turbulence of the billows. This seafaring population of Caithness do not, like the Highlanders, disdain to resort to fishing, in order to bring home the riches of the sea. As their soil, moreover, is by no means barren, and as they have naturally greater activity and more inclination to work than the Highlanders, as well as, through their English dialect, greater facility in their traffic with the more southern districts, it is not to be wondered at that the prosperity of Caithness manifests a great and constant progress. We may even justly assert that the descendants of the Norwegians in Caithness are in a far more fortunate situation than their kinsmen in the Orkneys and Shetland Isles.
In ancient times, a Norwegian population speaking its native language, was undoubtedly spread over the whole eastern coast of Caithness, as well as over several districts of Sutherland. But the English language, which in our times has superseded the Norwegian, ceases to be the common language of Caithness immediately to the south of the parish of Wick. A line drawn from Clyth Ness, in a north-western direction to the before-mentioned mansion of Forss to the west of Thurso, will indicate, as near as may be, the boundary between Gaelic and English. If, however, we travel southwards from the parish of Wick, through the parish of Latheron, where the common language is already Gaelic, we, nevertheless, pass a great many villages and farms bearing Norwegian names; as, for instance, Lybster and Forse (by a waterfall). The mountains here begin to be higher, and to stand closer and closer together towards the sea. At length, after passing the deep valley of Berrydale (Old N., "Berudalr"), and the beautiful wood-crowned banks of its river, we ascend the steep mountain ridge called "the Ord of Caithness," which runs boldly out into the sea, and forms a natural boundary between the narrow projecting promontory of Caithness and the broader Sutherland.
The first large valley in Sutherland to the south of this mountain ridge is Helmsdale, which is watered by a river of no mean size. That Helmsdale is a Norwegian name (in the Sagas "Hjalmundsdalr ") is at once evident from the present Gaelic inhabitants calling the valley in pure Gaelic, " Strath Ullie," or with a strange confusion of language, Strath Helmsdale; for as Strath signifies in Gaelic a valley or dale, the word dale is added both at the beginning and end. It is a similar repetition which we so often hear when the " Orkney Isles " are spoken of, in the original language "Orkno," but which, translated as now used, is Orkno Oerne (or the "Orkney-islands-islands "). Along Helmsdale River several places are met with whose original Norwegian names are still to be discerned; as, for instance, Eilderabol, Gilaboll, Dviaboll, and Leiraboll. All these have the ending bol, which is peculiar to a number of Norwegian names of places in Sutherland and in some of the Hebrides; but which, in Caithness, the Orkneys, and Shetland Isles, as well as in Lewis and several of the Hebrides, appears in the longer form of "bolsta'Sr." To the north-west of Helmsdale are the vales of Kildonan, which run up as far as the Vale of Strathmore in Caithness. Here, it is supposed, on the frontiers of Caithness and Sutherland, lay " Eisteinsdalr," so famed in history as the spot where the Scotch king William encamped in the year 1198. It is, however, very uncertain whether " Easterdale " in Strathmore he in any way connected with the name of Eisteinsdal. 'On leaving Helmsdale the coast opens, and fertile and beautiful fields begin to expand themselves. Past Midgarty and Wester Gartie (the middle and western Gaard, or farm, from Old N. "garSr "?) the road runs along the shore of the Bay of Dornoch (an arm of the " Breidif jordr," or broad firth mentioned in the Sagas, in which the Moray Firth is also included) to the little village of Brora, which is built on a considerable river, and where for a long period the only large bridge in Sutherland was to be found. It was possibly from this circumstance that the Norwegians gave the village its name (" Brura," the bridge rivulet). A river in Iceland is also still called Brura, from a bridge which crosses it. The ancient seat of the Earls of Sutherland, Dunrobin (Robin's tower, from dun, a tower), lies on the sea-shore, in the neighbourhood of Brora, surrounded by fine corn-fields and considerable tracts of woodland. The latter, however, were planted at a recent period. In the background rise considerable mountains, covered with heath. In this place, so highly favoured by nature both as regards scenery and fertility, the Norwegian jarls who ruled over Sutherland undoubtedly had one of their chief residences; as, for instance, Sigurd Jarl, a brother of Bagnvald More-Jarl, Sigurd the Stout (+ 1014), and his son Thorfin (+ about 1064). Norwegian antiquities, like those discovered in Caithness, are found in graves near Dunrobin, particularly the well-known bowl-formed brooches or buckles. In the neighbourhood several places with Norwegian names can be pointed out; for instance, just south of Dunrobin, in the fertile valley by the river Fleet, Mickle Torboll and Little Torboll (from Thor and bol); and on the coast, Skelbo, Skibo, and Embo (from bol, or perhaps more correctly from beer, bo). Sigurd, the first conqueror of Sutherland, is said to have extended his dominion as far as Ekkjalsbakke. As bakki in the ancient language signifies the bank of a river, there cannot be the least doubt that Ekkjal is the river Oykill, which still forms the southern boundary of Sutherland. Sigurd himself is said to have been interred at Ekkjalsbakke. He gained the victory in a foray over the Scotch jarl Melbrigd, and cut off his head, which, in the overweening pride of his triumph, he hung to his saddle; but a sharp tooth that projected from the head chafed his leg, and caused a wound which proved his death. On different parts of the banks of the Oykill numerous barrows are seen, indicating the many battles that have been fought in ancient times on the frontiers of Sutherland. But nobody is able to point out the barrow of Sigurd Jarl; the tradition relating to it has vanished with the Norwegian population.
For the rest, names of places prove that the Norwegians had also settled themselves along the coast to the south of the Oykill. On the narrow naze called Tarbet Ness, between Dornoch and Cromarty Firths, are the villages of Arboll and Wanby, as well as the town of Tain, whese Gaelic name, "Bailed Dhuich" (or St. Duthus' Town), shows at once that "Tain" must be of foreign origin. Tain is, moreover, a corruption of "ping," a Thing; and in like manner the somewhat considerable town of Dingwall, at the extremity of Cromarty Firth, was originally called "pingav6llr," or Thingwalla ; whence the remarkable fact is evident, that the Norwegians were once sufficiently numerous in these districts to have both an inferior Thing (Tain) and a superior- one (Dingwall). Dingwall, like Tain, besides its original Norwegian name, has also the Gaelic one of Inverphaeron. As the Norwegians, therefore, must have permanently possessed considerable tracts in these districts, it is clear that their settlements on the east coast of Scotland must have extended quite down to Inverness-shire and Moray. The beforementioned stronghold of Burghead in Moray, which the Northmen maintained to the last extremity, lies pretty close to the east of Cromarty Firth, the inlet to Dingwall.
As the Norwegian language and other Norwegian characteristics have given way to the Gaelic tongue, manners, and customs, in the former Norwegian districts on the north coast of Scotland, from Clyth Ness in Caithness to Dingwall on the Firth of Cromarty, we can scarcely be surprised that the north coast of Sutherland, whose rocks and heaths offered much fewer allurements to the Norwegians than the fertile valleys and plains of the east coast, and which were therefore far less colonized by them, should have preserved distinct traces of these foreign conquerors only in a few names of places. A remarkable instance of the Gaelic language having expelled the Norwegian is to be found immediately on the borders of Caithness, in the valley of Halladale. In a river there are two waterfalls, of which the uppermost is called Forsinard, and the lower one Forsindin. In both these names the Norwegian "Fors " is not to be mistaken; but Gaelic terminations have in later times been added by the Gaels, so that Forsinard now signifies the upper Fors, and Forsindin the under, or lower, Fors. Halladale is likewise frequently called by the additional Gffilic name of Strath—" Strath Halladale."
This much, however, is clear, that the whole of the north and west coast of Sutherland was once colonized by Norwegians. Besides various names of places west of Halladale, which likewise end in dale, such as Armadale, Swordale, and Torrisdale, it is surprising that we should still meet with pure Norwegian names on four of the largest firths of the north-west of Sutherland; viz., on the north coast the "Kyle of Tongue" (from "tunga," a tongue of land, a naze), together with the adjoining village, Kirkiboll (Kirkebolet); further, Loch Eriboll, with the large farm of Eriboll (the bol on the Eir, or tongue of land, from the Old N. "eyri "); the Kyle of Durness, or Dyrnses, with the bol, or dwelling, of Crossboll; and