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Helmsdale is a village in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. It’s origins go all the way back to the Vikings who sheltered and established a settlement at the mouth of the River Helmsdale where it flows into the Firth of Moray.
The village as it is today is a result of the Highland Clearances – that unfortunate time in Scottish history during the 18th and 19th centuries when crofters were evicted from their properties by the aristocratic landowners who, in pursuit of profits, changed from farming to the raising of sheep. Some of the thousands that were ruthlessly forced from their homes were housed in Helmsdale, as an alternative to being shipped off to the colonies.
The village, of course, at one time had a castle, built in 1488. The story goes that it was in the castle that the 11th Earl of Sutherland was poisoned by his aunt, Isobel Sinclair, who wanted to see her own son assume the title. However, the murderous act didn’t have the desired outcome as Isobel’s son also, accidentally, drank the poison and died. Isobel later committed suicide rather than face the gallows. Over the centuries the castle fell into ruin and the last remains were demolished in the 1970’s to make way for a new road.
The River Helmsdale is considered one of the best in the Highlands for salmon fishing while the village was once home to one of the largest herring fleets in Europe.
Images of the village were taken by my husband; other images by me; processing by me.