ASSYNT, a parish, in the county of Sutherland, 30 miles (N. W. by W.) from Dornoch; containing, with the quoad sacra district of Stoer, and the village of Lochinver, 3178 inhabitants. This place, which is supposed to take its name from its irregular boundary line, the Gaelic term, as agus innte, signifying "out and in," was once a forest of the ancient thanes of Sutherland, one of whom gave it in vassalage to Mac-Kry-Cul, who held that part of the coast of Coigach, afterwards called the village of Ullapool, as a reward for his having recovered a great quantity of cattle that had been carried off from the county of Sutherland, by the Scandinavians, who had also burnt the great fir forests on this and the neighbouring coast. Mac-Kry-Cul's family, by the disasters of war, being reduced to one heir female, she was given in marriage to a younger son of McLeod, laird of Lewis, with the consent of the Thane of Sutherland, who made this parish over to the newly-married couple, with its superiority; and after this event, there were fourteen successive lairds of the name of McLeod. About 1660, the parish and its superiority became the property of the Earl of Seaforth, from whom it passed to a younger son of his family, whose successors possessed it for three or four generations; and it was afterwards purchased by Lady Strathnaver, who presented it to her noble grandson, William, Earl of Sutherland, from whom it has descended to the present Duke of Sutherland.
   The extreme length of the parish is about 36 miles, and its greatest breadth 18; it contains 97,000 acres. It is in the north-west part of the county, and divided on the north from the parish of Eddrachillis, in the Reay country, by an arm of the sea called the Kyle, and is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The coast, which is about 20 miles in extent, is bold, rocky, and dangerous, and has several extensive and interesting caves; but in some places, is a fine sandy bottom, with safe landing. There are numerous islands attached to the parish, some of which are merely bare rocks, affording neither pasture nor shelter; the most considerable is that of Oldney, which is about a mile long, and a quarter of a mile wide, and is used for the pasturage of sheep; the other islands are, Crona, Soya, and Klett. The appearance of the district is altogether wild and mountainous, and its scenery romantic; the most remarkable heights are, Benmore, Cuniack, Suilvhen, and Cannisb, of which Benmore, the highest mountain, rises about 3230 feet above the level of the sea. The hills, also, are very numerous, and most of them abound with springs of excellent water. There are several fine lakes, among which that of Assynt is pre-eminent; it is above seven miles long, and about a mile broad, with banks in most places covered with brushwood, and is a fresh-water lake, abounding in trout, and distinguished for its striking and singularly picturesque scenery. The principal part of the parish is employed in sheep-farming, to which much attention is paid; and the larger part of the population dwell along the shores, and avail themselves of the advantages offered for fishing, from which, together with their small allotments of land, they draw their subsistence. Game is plentiful. The rateable annual value of the parish is £1212. There is some sandstone rock, but limestone is the prevailing formation, of which an immense ridge, on the Stronchrubie farm, extends about a mile and a half, overhanging the public road, being mantled, in many places, with ivy, and forming a covert for birds of prey.
   The village of Lochinver has several good houses and shops, and near it is a manufactory for preserving butcher's meat, fish, and vegetables, fresh, for the purpose of being carried out to sea; there is a post-office here, and another near the church. Excellent roads have been formed, extending forty miles in length, as well as numerous local roads for parochial use; at Lochinver is a small harbour with a pier, and several creeks afford shelter and anchorage. There are two small fisheries, let at a moderate rent, and one or two vessels belong to Assynt, besides which, several come in the herring season, to fish on the coasts, and a few to take the disposable produce of the parish, which consists chiefly of wool. An annual cattle-fair has been recently established at Inchnadaff. The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Dornoch and synod of Sutherland and Caithness; the Duke of Sutherland is patron, and the stipend of the minister is £158. 6. 8., with a glebe worth about £35. 10. per annum, and a manse. The church, a small building, seating about 280 persons, is inconveniently situated at a distance of nine miles from the southern boundary of the parish, the great bulk of the population residing at distances varying from 12 to 18 miles; it was built about 60 years since, and has been extensively repaired. There are two preaching stations, the one at Lochinver, fourteen miles from the church, and the other at Kyle side, nearly the same distance, the services of which are performed by the parochial minister; at Stoer, is a government church, built in 1829. A place of worship has been erected in connexion with the Free Church. The parish has a parochial school, of which the master receives a salary of £34; and several other schools are supported by general societies for promoting education. Among the antiquities are, Ardvrack Castle, built by the McLeods, about the year 1590, and now in ruins; Calda House, erected by the Mc Kenzies; and a large Druidical temple.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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