Photographer's Note

Discovered while archiving some files...

Croick Church lies some 10 miles up Strathcarron to the west of the village of Ardgay in the county of Sutherland It was built in 1827 on land donated by the Rosses of Balnagown to a design by Thomas Telford, as part of a church extension programme initiated and financed by the Westminster Parliament.
The population of Croick parish at the time that the Church was built was , as in many parts of the Highlands, made up of tenants who practised subsistence farming on patches of arable land in the straths and from shielings on hill grazings. By the end of the 18th century commercial sheep farming was being introduced into the Highlands in general, and into Ross-shire in particular by Sir John Lockhart Ross of Balnagown.

As sheep farming became adopted by the landlords it brought with it a complete change in the lives of their tenants. The changes, known as The Clearances, did not reach Croick until 1842 when James Gillanders, factor to the Robertsons of Kindeace, attempted to evict the tenants of Glencalvie in order to make way for sheep.
His efforts were at first strongly, and successfully, resisted but he eventually succeeded, by deception, on 24th May 1845 when 18 families 90 people were cleared from their homes in Glencalvie in which they had lived for generations. Prior to their departure, and for some their eventual transportation, many took refuge in impoverished shelters erected in the Croick churchyard.
They did not occupy the Church itself as they would have considered that sacrilege. Their wretched plight is recorded in their messages, scratched on the outside of the east window of the Church. Taken from inside the Church, this pane reads 'Glencal peopl was in the churchyard here may 24 1845 '.
This spot without doubt holds memories of some of of Scotland's darkest days. Worth a visit.

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Additional Photos by Dougie Johnston (dougie) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 269 W: 16 N: 486] (2523)
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