Tongue (Highland)

Tongue, Highland

Tongue (Scottish Gaelic: Tunga from Old Norse Tunga ) is a coastal village in northwest Highland, Scotland (in the western part of the former county of Sutherland. It lies on the east shore above the base of the Kyle of Tongue and north of the mountains Ben Hope and Ben Loyal.

The area was an historic crossroad for Gaels, Picts and Vikings, and it was the last group who named it. "Tongue," in this case, is from the Old Norse "Tunga." Contrary to popular belief, it does not refer to the shape of the Kyle of Tongue (though the kyle can be described as "tongue-shaped"), but 'tunga' as a geographical term refers to a piece of land shaped like a spit or tongue. That particular piece of land, on which the village and the kyle are located, is the terminal moraine of the Kyle of Tongue glacier.

Tongue is the main village in a series of crofting townships, that run through Coldbackie, Dalharn, Blandy, the harbour of Scullomie to the deserted township of Slettel. The village saw a key battle between a Jacobite treasure ship and two ships of the Royal Navy in 1746, which resulted in the Jacobite crew trying to slip ashore with their gold. They were then caught by the Navy, supported by local people who were loyal to Hanover, which cost Bonnie Prince Charlie valuable support in the run-up to Culloden.

Tongue House is the historic seat of the Clan Mackay, after they abandoned Caistreal Bharraich (Castle Varrich). The ruins of the castle, built at Tongue in the eleventh century after the clan were expelled from their ancestral Province of Moray to County Sutherland, are a popular tourist attraction.

The Village includes a youth hostel, a craft shop, a general store and garage, a bank and a post office and two hotels the Tongue Hotel and the ben. It is connected to the west side of the Kyle by a causeway, built in 1971.

In Gaelic - 'Tunga' indicates the village; whereas Caol Thunga, indicates the kyle.

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