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Lybster Harbour.jpg
Lybster Harbour
Grid reference: ND250360
Location: 58°18’-0"N, 3°16’48"W
Post town: Lybster
Postcode: KW2, KW3
Dialling code: 01593
Local Government
Council: Highland
Caithness, Sutherland
and Easter Ross

Lybster is a village on the east coast of Caithness, facing the North Sea. This was once a big herring fishing port, but has declined in recent years, due to problems in the industry.

The village's name is from Old Norse, once the language of Caithness, and means "Slope farmstead".


The Sinclairs of Lybster have long roots running back to the Sinclair earls who ruled Caithness and much of Sutherland. Tracing further back, the family has connections to the Norwegian earls of Orkney and Caithness.

Lybster railway station was part of the Wick and Lybster Railway. It opened on 1 July 1903 and closed on 3 April 1944.

Patrick Sinclair

One of the more famous of local branch of the Sinclairs was General Patrick Sinclair, who served in North America from 1759-1784 with the Black Watch and the 15th Regiment of Foot in the French and Indian War and later with the 84th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants) during the American Revolution.

During the Revolution, Sinclair, with the rank of major, was Lieutenant-Governor of Michilimackinac, an outpost in the Ohio and Illinois territories. His decision to move Fort Michilimackinac from its exposed location on the northernmost point of the lower peninsula of Michigan to Mackinac Island was his downfall however.

The construction of the new fortress and town, Fort Mackinac, began in 1779 and was completed in 1781, in the last stages of the war. At his order, the old Michilimackinac was razed to the ground to keep it out of the rebel Americans' hands. However Sinclair was then called back to Britain to face a court martial for taking 'too many extravagancies' while building Fort Mackinac and from the vastness of backwoods America, he returned home to little Lybster in disgrace. Only later was his disgrace reversed and he ended his life with the rank of lieutenant-general, though no longer on active duty.

Sinclair died in 1820 and was buried in Lybster. His grave is still there today as well as a plaque commemorating his command of Michilimackinac and the founding of Fort Mackinac. Today there is a pub on Mackinac Island that bears his name.


Lybster hosts the "World Championships of Knotty"; knotty or cnatag is a variant of shinty.

The film, The Silver Darlings, from Neil Gunn's book, was shot here.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Lybster)