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Halkirk - geograph.org.uk - 243153.jpg
Grid reference: ND130594
Location: 58°30’36"N, 3°29’24"W
Post town: Halkirk
Postcode: KW12
Dialling code: 01847
Local Government
Council: Highland Council
Caithness, Sutherland
and Easter Ross

Halkirk is a village on the River Thurso in Caithness.

Halkirk lies inland, on the B874 road which runs northward to the coast at Thurso and eastward of Halkirk to Georgemas. The village is within the parish of Halkirk, and is said by local people to be Scotland's first planned village.

Until the early 13th century, Halkirk was the site of the cathedral of the Diocese of Caithness. The bishop's seat was then moved to Dornoch. No remains of the early church and bishop's seat remain.

Historic distilleries

Halkirk has had two whisky distilleries; Gerston from 1796 to 1885, and Ben Morven (also known as Gerston II) from 1886 to circa 1911. Both were established on the banks of the River Thurso, near Gerston Farm, and both drew water from Calder Burn. The Ben Morven distillery was named for the mountain, the highest point in Caithness.

The original Gerston distillery was first registered by a Francis Swanson, and was expanded by two sons, John and James, in 1825. Sir Robert Peel is said to have acquired a taste for the whisky. The distillery closed not long after it was sold to new owners in 1872, and a London company, calling themselves the Gerston Distillery Company, decided to build a new distillery.

In 1897 the new distillery was sold to Northern Distilleries Limited, who gave it the Ben Morven name. It was never very successful, and it closed circa 1911. The stillhouse is still standing.

The old parish church at Halkirk, now abandoned


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