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Durness

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Durness is a village and civil parish in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. It lies on the north coast of the country in the traditional county of Sutherland around 120mi north of Inverness. The area is remote and the parish is huge and sparsely populated covering an area from east of Loch Eriboll to Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point of the Scottish mainland.The population is dispersed and includes a number of townships including Kempie, Eriboll, Laid, Rispond, Sangobeg, Leirinmore, Smoo, Sangomore, Durine, Balnakeil and Keoldale.EtymologyThe name was originally Norse "Dyrnes", meaning "deer/animal headland". No one knows for sure where the name derives; it has variously been translated as from "Dorainn nis" tempest point, or "Dhu thir nis" the point of the black land; or from the Norse for deerpoint. Or even from the main village "Durine" which would translate as "Dhu Rinn" the black (or fertile) promontory, with the Norse "ness" tacked onto an existing Gaelic name.HistoryThe area has been inhabited since stone age times and there are many places of historic interest. Durness was formerly a part of the bishopric of Caithness and the old house at Balnakeil was originally the bishop's summer residence. The church at Balnakeil dates back to the Culdean monks but the existing ruined church is said to have been built by the monks from Dornoch Cathedral in the 13th century. On Faraid Head is Seannachaisteal, presumably a broch, but it is now completely enveloped in sand and no dig has ever been carried out to see what it was and from which time in history. A few years ago, the body of a young Viking boy was discovered exposed by the erosion of the sand dunes at Faraid. At Sangobeg beach, the body of a Pictish boy was discovered.
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