About the Author

Bruce Henderson is a computer engineer living in Southern California. With the help of his cousins he is researching the history of the Henderson family of southern Caithness. You can contact him at bruce@sigalarm.com

Landward Episode 23 - Commentary

The episode has aired now (November 27th in Scotland) and thankfully I was able to find a way to see it, and I would now like to share my comments on the episode with you.

First off, I think it was great! It’s by far the best 6 minutes of Henderson ancient history on television thus far. Most of the folks in the family who saw it wish it would have been longer, which is understandable. But the pacing, the camera work and way they packed that much information into 6 minutes was fantastic.

Word from Landward is that they will provide us with the whole footage some time this spring. I am not sure if it will be possible, but I would very much like to try and put together a “directors cut” of the segment from the portion that aired along with some other elements from the tape.

The detailed comments, and hints about what else was filmed Continue reading Landward Episode 23 – Commentary

Landward Episode 23 - My Thanks


George, Anson and Holly at Knockfin

With the Landward segment now aired, I would like to publicly thank everyone who put forth the effort to make this happen. This includes:

First off, it was great fun to do a segment on Landward, and I am forever grateful for the chance to present a portion of our story. Thanks to Holly for going with the idea which originally was to film at Badbea and transition to Knockfin instead. Holly kept things moving forward, and Colin; thanks for lugging that camera all over the place.

Holly Booth – Landward Assistant Producer
Colin MacLure – Landward Cameraman

Dunbeath Heritage
Simply put, without the good work of the Dunbeath Heritage Centre, none of this could have ever happened. The Centre served as a hub for the shoot, and put forth an enormous amount of research and logistical support. For those that are wondering, a visit to the Dunbeath Centre is worth the drive to Caithness all on its own. With Dunbeath being a rich site of archeology and historical research, the centre’s collection will hopefully continue to grow.

Meg Sinclair – Director of the Dunbeath Heritage Center
Nan Bethune – Historian and national treasure
George Bethune – Historian and national treasure
Margaret Irvine – Cousin & researcher
Sandy Gunn – Owner of the Rhian site

Knockfin – Wellbeck Estate
Anson is one of the nicest fellows you could ever hope to meet, and I can’t thank him enough for taking us back to Knockfin. My only regret is that I did not have as much time as I wanted to capture the beauty of this place in pictures, but the Estate and Anson has kindly offered to take me back there when I can return to Caithness.

Anson MacAuslan – Factor, Wellbeck Estate

Badbea Families
This whole thing really started with Lynn and Martin Craig. The original concept that came from Lynn and Holly was to return someone to Badbea in conjunction with Scotland’s 2009 Homecoming celebrations. Over time the idea morphed into the Knockfin plan instead, largely due to who was available to travel to Caithness (me). The Craig’s work to preserve the important legacy of Badbea continues to this day, with their fantastic web site, The Badbea Families.

Lynn Craig – Badbea Families
Martin Craig – Badbea Families

To all of you who put forth the effort to make this happen, my eternal thanks. I am sure I have forgotten someone, so please consider yourself thanked if I overlooked you, and drop me an email.

Landward Story Now Online

Henderson Kin3.jpg

The story of how the Henderson saga became part of an episode of BBC Scotland’s program “Landward” is now online. The episode with the Dunbeath footage airs Friday November 27th at 7:00 PM on BBC2 Scotland. Those able to use the BBC iPlayer can view the episode online.

>Read the story here<

Finding Knockfin

As we were tracing our family tree back in time, the oldest record we could find was the birth record for James Henderson, who lived in Rhian. James was born to a man named William, in a place called “Knockfin Berriedale”.


This posed a mystery for us, as the name Knockfin had not been used in Caithness or much of anywhere in a very long time (it would turn out for over 200 years).

Using current maps, there was one place in Caithness that used the name Knockfin, a remote location up in the hills east of the Strath of Kildonan, typically used as summer pasture for the herds.

While I have not had the joy of hiking up there yet, I have used some imagery from Google Earth and others to spot the ruins of some structures there, but something did not quite add up.

Months later I was able to come across the digital version of John Thomson’s Atlas of Scotland, 1832 at the National Library of Scotland. When browsing around southern Caithness (Henderson home ground), I found the below section of the map near Berriedale:


Immediately the thrill of discovery was upon me – here was an old map that recorded the name of Knockfin, not dozens of miles from Berriedale, but located on the river.

Fortunately, Google Earth had recently improved the quality of their satellite imagery over Caithness, so I went looking for any signs of habitation, and there it was!

Knockfin Detail.jpg

This discovery would eventually lead to the filming of the Landward episode, and a remarkable trip to this ancient Henderson homeland in September of 2009