The Historic Period
1,500 Years Ago to Present
Much of the Caithness landscape is dominated by the fragments of activity from AD500 to the present day. This period witnessed the emergence of new kingdoms, individuals and groups, and the birth of the Scottish nation.
Remains of Pictish and Viking houses, churches, burials and carved stones are scattered across the County. Place names tell us something of the areas once inhabited by Norse and Gaelic speakers. Like today, medieval kings asserted their power through armies, fighting and owning land, using their castles as bases and refuges.
Around 300 years ago industrial development took hold of Caithness. Caithness flagstone was torn from the land and shipped around the world. Fishing remained critical to the economy with Wick becoming one of the largest fishing stations in Europe.
Farming remained the heartbeat of the County. The landscape is littered with estates, farmhouses, crofts, dovecots, watermills and field boundaries. These are the most visible historical remains in north-west Caithness.