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

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

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