The Wildland estates; history, heritage & tradition
Alongside our stated commitment to the preservation of the land and the human infrastructure of the Wildland estates, we increasingly find ourselves the guardian of significant parts of Scotland’s history. We see preservation as protection, restoration and renewal; the past alive for present and future generations to enjoy.
Across Wildland’s northern estates are some of the most striking brochs on the Scottish mainland. These two-thousand-year old archaeological structures demand not just our protection but also our care and attention.
There’s more recent history too. Eriboll Estate still bears the legacy of 18th century lime kilns built by one of the old Dukes of Sutherland, while Loch Eriboll was a scene of sadness a century later when a Highland Clearances ship drove into its sheltered waters to take people from the Sutherland Estates away from the land, never to return.
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”
John James Audubon
More recent still, battle cruiser HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy before its sinking by the Bismarck in 1941, visited regularly and provided a treat for local children who were invited onboard. There is even a memorial to HMS Hood and the sailors who perished with her in Eriboll Church, and its name is picked out in stone in the hills above the loch.
Just four years later, as peace resumed, Loch Eriboll once again played a part in naval history when its deep waters allowed it to serve as the setting for the formal surrender of the remaining German U-boat fleet and marking the end of the Battle of the Atlantic.
In fact, historical context is everywhere:
Ribigil Farm at Ben Loyal once exported as many as 20000 sheep a year through the Lairg auctions. A thriving estate, it was the first in the Highlands to use traction engines for ploughing – but, this is also why the forests were destroyed and how the processes of land degradation began. Everything was taken away, nothing put back, and those that actually lived and worked the land enjoyed little benefit from their labours.
It’s not just the cultural history, there are so many other educational aspects too. Darwin for example famously detailed his explanation of ‘parallel roads’ geological timescales and the processes that formed them at Braeroy. Whilst his explanation was incorrect, the location remains a place of pilgrimage for geologists to this day. …and it’s on Wildland land. We are proud to have this and the amazing geology of the Moine within our story.
Castle Varrich in Tongue is a beautiful old ruin and a much-loved local landmark despite little being known about its origins. Wildland has funded and contributed to its restoration. Indeed, we were keen to see it be enjoyed again not just by the local community but by visitors to the area too.