As children we used to take delight in talking about Spiddle Hill. It was something about the phoenetics or rhyming that appealed to young people.
The settlement was located on a steep hill that separated the Waugh River settlement, (The Falls), from the Matheson Brook valley settlement. In the early 1960’s, the community was completely devoid of people, the farms returning to spruce trees and the houses windowless and tilted. It was a haunting experience to travel the narrow road over the hill and nightmares usually followed such a trip.
In its heyday, the settlement contained ten farms which were settled between 1821 and 1845 by families mostly from Clyne. The steep, stoney fields were a challenge to cultivate so it is not surprising that the homesteads were gradually abandoned in the early 1900’s.
The last settler to arrive was Alexander Murray “Corrigan”. He emigrated from Strath Halladale in Lord Reay’s Country in the year 1845 at a very advanced age. He was accompanied by his elderly wife, Christy Sutherland, sons Robert and Donald, daughters Catherine and Ellen. They started their married life at Tannachy on the Rogart side of Strathbrora. Around 1810, Alexander and a brother William moved their families to a remote croft near Altanduin in Kildonan. In 1814 they were forcefully evicted by the estate. They migrated north and found shelter for the winter in an encampment on Slettil Hill near the Caithness border. They were once again removed and this time they found a permanent home at Craigton in Strath Halladale. In 1819 two of their daughters settled in Earltown and a third one emigrated in 1832. By 1845 the remaining family was ready for a change, with the exception of one son who had married and wished to remain in Craigton with his wife’s people.
As for Spiddle Hill, it was always accepted that it was named after a place in Sutherlandshire. Research on old maps and other Sutherland records have not yielded any clues for a place named “Spiddle”. There is a reference in the Earltown Presbyterian records to a Cnoc Na Spidail. This did not help in the quest. The only place close to Spiddle is Slettil Hill, one time home of Alexander Murray, Corrigan.
Alexander’s old home on Spiddle Hill is now owned by his descendent, Edwin Cameron of The Falls.