Clan Sutherland History

The Earldom of Sutherland is claimed to be the oldest in Britain.

The Sutherland clan derive their name from the territory known as Sudrland by the Norsemen who had conquered much of the Scottish mainland north of Inverness. The family are thought to be of Flemish origin, descendants of Freskin, who is also an ancestor of the Murrays of Atholl.

The Earls of Sutherland maintained feuds with many neighbouring clans, in particular Clan MacKay. Relations with the Sinclairs of Caithness were also strained, and the 11th Earl of Sutherland and his wife died of poisoning, at the instigation of the Earl of Caithness.

The first Duke of Sutherland was renowned for being a keen reformer and he cleared his tenants ruthlessly from the land to set up new industries on the coast. He was responsible for virtually destroying the old ways of life in Sutherland and was never forgiven by many people for these clearances.

The principal seat of the chiefs of clan Sutherland is the fairy tale castle of Dunrobin, which has been transformed from a traditional Scottish castle into a vast palace in the French chateau style. Now open to the public, it remains in the possession of the Sutherland family.

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