Sutherland Summary Table

Sutherland: Summary Table


Parish/Area Davachs Merks(OE) Ratio d:m Pennylands 6d = 1 davach Place-name evidence/Comments
Dornoch 35     Yes Yes Davochfin, Leadoch, Fourpenny
Golspie 25     Yes Yes  
Clyne 21     Yes Yes Loch Dabhaich, Leadoch, Easter Kerrow
Creich 25+     Yes Yes Probably 29, Possibly 30 davachs
Assynt 4 8m 1:2*     Cnoc Dabhaich
Loth 18     Yes Yes  
Lairg c. 15½     Yes Yes Midpenny
Kildonan 21¾ 6m:1 davach (1494) 6:1 Yes Yes Kerrow of Kinbrace
Rogart 25¾ (10m: 1 davach) 10:1 Yes Yes Davochbeg, Kerrow, Fourpenny
Durness 20¾     Yes ? Ceathramh Meanach, Kearvaig?
Eddrachilis 4     Yes ? Ceathramh Garbh
Tongue 15½     Yes Probably  
Farr 25½+     Yes ? Midpenny, Docharn?
Reay (Sutherland part) +     Yes Yes Davochmore/beg, Pennyland of the Strath
Total Min 265            


* This ratio of davach to merklands is an anomaly in the context of the west coast..


The table for Reay is included under Caithness. Strath Halladale was originally part of Farr parish but by 1245 had been disjoined and attached to Reay. (See Sutherland Book III No 4; OPS II, II pp 601-2).


The evidence that 6d made a davach is solid from the Kyle of Sutherland up to Kildonan. I think it then applied through Caithness and probably Farr, although there is no hard evidence for Farr. We have sufficient pennyland and davach data to be confident that this ratio applied in Tongue. I think it probably also applied in Durness and Edderachylis as well although we lack data to confirm.


In Assynt I have no data at all. Similarly I have no pennyland data between Kishorn and Coigach in Wester Ross.



On the west coast mainland the northern limit to Hiberno-Norse pennylands was the parish of Lochcarron. From Lochcarron south along the west coast, and throughout the Northern Hebrides, pennylands were reckoned at 20d to 1 ounceland. From Edderachylis working clockwise round to the Kyle of Sutherland there were 18d per ounceland and 6d per davach – reckoning 3 davachs to the ounceland. From the Kyle of Sutherland southwards on the east coast there were no pennylands. There were davachs – and it is possible that 3-davach units were reckoned an ounceland.


Given these different ratios it is possible that the origin of the west coast pennyland system was Dublin and the Isle of Man whereas the far north and the counties of Caithness and Sutherland, took their inspiration from Orkney.


It is striking that the total number of davachs appearing in the Summary Table for Ross is at least 276, in the Summary Table for Sutherland it is at least 265. However the counties of Ross and Sutherland are both modern creations. In earlier times we have to think in terms of Strathnaver and North Argyll as separate areas. However, comparisons between such figures do raise the intriguing question as to whether in early times the provinces of Scotland were divided up on the basis of the numbers of davachs they contained.


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