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Traditional Parish outline

Caithness ( Scottish Gaelic Gallaibh ) is a traditional county on the northeastern tip of Scotland with the historic capital Wick . In 2013, 26,067 people lived in Caithness on an area of ​​1601.26 km².

Geographical location

To the west and south of Caithness is the old county of Sutherland . The largest city with 7933 inhabitants was Thurso in 2011 , followed by Wick with 7155 and Halkirk with 982 inhabitants. The ports of Scrabster near Thurso and John o 'Groats , from where ferries depart for Orkney , are important.

In Dunnet Head near Thurso is the northernmost point of the British main island while John O'groats marks whose north-easternmost point.

Excluding sea areas, the county covers an area of ​​1805 km² and, unlike other counties in the Highlands, has just over 10 km² of inland water.


The administrative county of Caithness was dissolved in 1975 and incorporated as a district in the Scottish region of Highland. In addition to the traditional territory, the Caithness district also included the areas of Tongue and Farr . With the replacement of the regions by Council Areas in 1996 , the traditional counties lost all official significance and Caithness was immediately placed under the administration of the new Highland Authority . With the area of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty , Caithness forms a European NUTS3 unit ( UKM41 ).


Little is known about the early history of the county. What is certain is that it was inhabited by the Picts . Caithness is best known for its archaeological attractions, such as the countless remains of Brochs , such as the Broch of Ousdale . These and other monuments are partly accessible from the Yarrows Archeology Trail, the "Route of Archeology in Caithness", and can be visited all year round (see also the Wag of Forse ). To the north is the Pentland Firth , which separates the Orkney archipelago from Scotland . In the Pentland Firth is the Isle of Stroma , the northernmost landmass of Caithness. Caithness was the seat of numerous bishops . In the Middle Ages, Caithness came under the control of the Norwegian Jarle of Orkney . It was not until 1266 that the King of Norway recognized Caithness as part of the Kingdom of Scotland in the Peace of Perth . The Scottish title of Earl of Caithness was first bestowed around 1334 and has been hereditary in the Sinclair family since 1455. Today's holder is the politician Malcolm Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness .


While arable farming is also practiced in the eastern part, sheep and cattle farming dominate the majority. Sheep breeding is important both for part-time farmers ( crofters ) and as a main occupation. In the north of the county is Dounreay , an area around a ruined castle that has been operating nuclear test reactors since the 1950s. The trial operation was one of the defining economic factors in the surrounding communities. The former experimental reactor has been in the process of being dismantled since 1994, which means that the more than 1,000 jobs associated with Dounreay have been preserved.


Individual evidence

  1. a b Information from the Highland Council
  2. 395,680 acres


  • Barbara E. Crawford: Caithness . In: Phillip Pulsiano (ed.): Medieval Scandinavia. To encyclopedia . New York [u. a.] 1993 ( Garland encyclopedias of the Middle Ages 1), ISBN 0-8240-4787-7 , pp. 63-65.

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