Syre

The corrugated iron church at Syre was built as a mission station in 1891 by the free church of Scotland whose minister the reverend Alexander Sutherland and his congregation at Altnaharra undertook the project. Its purpose was to serve the small community of shepherds, gamekeepers and gillies in the employ of the Sutherland estates, or the huge sheep farms who then made up the entire population of the strath.

The congregation was augmented from Whitsunday 1901 when the northern part of the Syre farm having been bought by the Congested Districts Board was offered for let as twenty nine small holdings. This allowed descendants of the original population of Strathnaver to return to their ancestral homes though in very small numbers to the past.

The church formed part of an interesting assemblage of buildings including the "big Barn", a very large corrugated iron structure, associated with the sheep farm which stood just south of here, and "Patrick Sellers House" once the farm house of the Syre Farm, just to the west. Unfortunately because of its ruinous state the barn was demolished in 2000 and the house which was also deteriorating has undergone substantial modification.

Whilst the church building remains unaltered, the congregation has twice changed its alliance. In 1900, following moves for church unity, they voted to join with the United Free Church in the formation of the United Free Chur church. In 1929 the UF church joined the then Church of Scotland to form the Church of Scotland as we know today and since 1962 when the last minister in Altnaharra Churches have been associated with church of Scotland in Bettyhill.

There is a touch of irony in the story as prior to the clearances, Strathnaver was served by a Mission Station of the Established Church at Achness, two miles south of the church and 150 years later the status quo was restored- albeit with a vastly reduced congregation.