Having been immersed in Jacobite history for the few days previous, the Highland History and Research Tour changed tracks just slightly on Sunday and headed over to Sutherland.
We arrived at Dornoch where we took in Easter Sunday Service at the historic Cathedral. The minister is Reverend Susan Brown, Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland, and the same minister that married Guy Ritchie and Madonna and who baptised their son Rocco. We were able to witness the baptism of a local baby girl and welcome her into the Family of God.
Following service, we walked over to the Castle Hotel for Easter Lunch. The Castle was once the original Bishop's Palace and, later, home to Bishop Robert Stewart, brother to the Earl of Sutherland.
From the Castle, we drove to see some of the historic sights in Dornoch, including the inn that once housed cleared highlanders and the stone marking the spot of the execution of last woman in Scotland to be tried for witchcraft.
Then it was on to Dunrobin Castle for a look at castle and grounds. From the Castle, we went on to see the areas affected by the Highland Clearances in Sutherland, some of the most brutal in history, thanks to the ruthlessness of Factor Patrick Sellar.
We stopped at Rogart to see the memorial cairn to the grandparents of Sir John A. Macdonald. Sir John's paternal grandparents were victims of the Clearances.
We stopped in Helmsdale to see The Emigrant statue, which honours those who left the Sutherland Estate for further shores.
And then we headed inland, up the Strath of Kildonan to Kildonan Parish Kirk where we were able to see the plaque honouring the great grandparents of John G Diefenbaker. Sir John's maternal great grandparents were Bannermans and were cleared from Kildonan. They ended up on the Red River Settlement, which is the present day Winnipeg.
All along the way we were humbled and moved by the tangible evidence of the impact of the Highland Clearances
From Kildonan, we took the "overland route" back to Dornoch and were treated to this amazing sight on the way.