South Yarrows South laser scan
One of our early visitors, Robert Louis Stevenson, described our landscape from his Samoan island thus:
"Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in desert places,
Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
Hills of sheep, and the howes of the silent vanished races,
And winds austere and pure"
Not very much would have changed, were he to return today, and the tops of the Yarrows hills, in their broad sweep beyond the loch of Yarrows, are dominated by the standing stones and long barrows of the "silent vanished races". Caithness has some of the richest and most varied archaeological remains in Britain, particularly from the Neolithic and Iron Ages. The famous Camster cairns, which are now fully restored, are located across the Yarrows Hill and form part of the rich concentration of Neolithic chambered burial cairns of the area. These are located near the road from just north of Lybster to Watten. A well-laid trail takes the walker out over the Yarrows Hills to see some of the barrows, round tombs, broch and settlements.
The Hill o' Many Stanes, just to the south, and convenience from the A9 are 22 rows of stones, arranged in rows, an arrangement repeated beside the Yarrows loch, near North Yarrows cottage.
The Iron-Age dwellers' "brochs" are everywhere, on raised mounds, or beside the lochs. Yarrows has a particularly good one, straight across the loch from North Yarrows cottage. Little Loch Rangag, on the Latheron-Thurso road has a lovely broch, on a small promontary.
Freswick is worth a visit to see something of the Viking way of life, in an area whose names are redolent of the era of their early settlement.
If you are planning a stay at Thrumster to explore some of these why not take a day trip to Orkney on the foot ferry from John O'Groats, and visit some of the principal monuments there on a guided bus tour. The crossing is quick and exhilarating, the bird life is fabulous, and you may bring back some beautiful Orkney knitwear, silver jewellery, smoked salmon, etc. Well worth a visit.