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  Croick Church


At the head of Strathcarron, some ten miles or so along the single track road from the village of Ardgay, lies Croick Old Parish Church. It was built in 1827 at a cost of £1,527 to a standard design produced by the famous engineer Thomas Telford. It is known as a T-plan parliamentary church, so called because of its layout and because it was constructed as part of a programme of rural church building funded by the government.

In the first few years after its construction the church was attended evey week by a congregation numbering around 200, all of whom lived in the many small communities from the surrounding area. These people would have worked the land, growing crops and raising a few cattle and sheep on small parcels of land rented from the local estate. However, large-scale sheep farming had been introduced to the Highlands in the late eighteenth century and by the early 1840s the factor of the estate, James Gillanders, had decided to evict the tenants of Glencalvie and replace them with sheep.

The first few attempts to evict the tenants failed, but Gillanders finally succeeded on the 24th of May 1845. Eighteen families, around 90 people, were cleared from their homes in the glen, taking refuge in the church yard, sheltering from the elements under tarpaulins. As they passed the time in these wretched conditions some of them scratched messages in the panes of glass in the east window of the church.

"Glencalvie people was in the churchyard here May 24 1845", "Glencalvie tenants residing here" and most poignantly "Glencalvie people, the wicked generation", a reflection perhaps that these people felt that the evictions were a punishment for their sins.

Despite its remote location, the clearance of Glencalvie was witnessed by a correspondent from The Times newspaper in London who wrote a report on the plight of the people of the glen. However, within a few days of its publication the churchyard was empty once more. It is not recorded where the people finally went. Some probably to the small coastal villages, others perhaps to the industrial towns of central Scotland. Some may even have chosen to emigrate to the new world, Nova Scotia being a common destination for those evicted from their land.

Croick Church today is peaceful and remote. The church still holds regular services and visitors are welcome. Outside at the east window is a viewing platform enabling a close view of the messages scratched in the glass. Some of them are more legible than others, but they are all described in a small display inside the church along with a reproduction of the article that appeared in The Times.


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