KINLOCHLAGGAN --- In 1979 our cousin, Kathleen Gunn Turpin, compiled and had printed, information on our branches of Clan Gunn. The booklet was titled: "The GUNNs of Kinlochlaggan...A Scottish Diaspora". In this booklet, Kathleen gives us the following description of Kinlochlaggan:
"Kinlochlaggan was the name of
the croft (a small farm) in Creich Parish, Sutherlandshire, Scotland--about five miles
north of Bonar Bridge -- where my great-great-grandfather, Hugh Gunn (1793-1851) and his
wife Margaret Murray Gunn (1788-1857) lived and where their nine children were born...
Kinlochlaggan means the croft was located at the head of Loch Laggan. 'Kin' is the English
attempt at the Gaelic C-E-A-N, pronounced Kyaoon (very nasally) meaning a head. Loch, of
course, is lake. Laggan means 'little hollow or cavity'. Thus, the name means 'the croft
at the head of the lake in the little hollow.'
Several different spellings -- Gaelic and
English -- appear in the Old Parish Register: 'Caenlochlaggan, Kinlochlaggan' and other
Loch Laggan is a
lake about one mile long and a quarter-mile wide. It forms part of the boundary between
Creich and Dornoch Parishes...
continued living in this area after the Highland Clearances -- when in the course of a few
years (around 1810) a large portion of the residents of Creich, Dornoch, and other
Highland parishes, were removed from their lands and replaced by Cheviot sheep. The sheep
were considered by the Duke of Sutherland and other landowners to be a better economic
speculation for the highland terrain than crofters who could pay little rent for the land.
Those few who
remained -- as did our ancestors -- were forced to live on such miserable land allotments,
or scraps of moor and bog land, that it was next to impossible for them to exist and they
did so in great poverty, according to 'The Highland Clearances' by John Prebble.
Census reports from
the mid-1800's show that Kinlochlaggan consisted of four acres: rock and heather covered
moors with bog lands of peat.
The walls of the
Kinlochlaggan house were each made of two layers of stacks of rocks, with a layer of dirt
several inches thick between. Since there was no mortar at that time, this was probably
the best means available for keeping out the weather. These two layers of rock -- plus the
dirt between them -- made each wall about two feet thick.
The back part of
the dwelling had at some time been torn down and rebuilt as a rounded sheep 'sorting pen'.
However, the front and side walls remain today as originally built...
now part of the Andrew Carnegie estate. Carnegie purchased it along with all land north of
the Dornoch Firth between the Shin and Evelix Rivers (lying 20 miles apart) for his estate
where he built Skibo Castle in 1897.
Colonel Damon Gunn,
grandson of Joseph Gunn, was told while visiting Kinlochlaggan in 1923 that Carnegie had
the private road built past the site of Kinlochlaggan in order to get from his home
(Skibo) on the Dornoch Firth to another place of his back in the country.
At that time there
was a small wooden cabin style building a few feet from the Kinlochlaggan ruins where
Carnegie used to sit and enjoy the scene of Lake Laggan and appreciate the peace and quiet
of the place from which the Gunns had been driven out earlier in the century.
After visiting Kinlochlaggan, Damon's 1923 greeting to his Grandmother Gunn (widow of Joseph Gunn) stated 'the place seemed lonesome to me a bit. I don't wonder at the usual sturdiness of the people who had made these places their home....Must have been quite a house judging from the amount of stone. The stones are piled up into sort of a sheep fold, and I think that it is but an indication of the number who have left the country for less hardy places -- for one never sees a new place in the country and many left (abandoned).' "