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My interest in Brims | The Brims Area The Begg Family at Brims

My personal interest in Brims

3 generations of Brimses c1873I cannot remember how old I was when I first became interested in the history of my family. I have many memories of being allowed to look at the "Brimses of Brims" and of being told the history of our family. A picture of a Viking longboat particularly captured my imagination.

In 1983 I tried to contact all the Brims households that were listed in the telephone directories of the United Kingdom, about 56 in all. To my surprise about 20 replied and as a consequence, I discovered a 'lost' branch of the family.

I first went to Brims in June 1986 at the end of a cycle tour of Scotland. It was a very hot day, without a cloud in the sky, I gathered from the locals that this was very unusual indeed. The castle itself is now a sad ruin, a refuge for sheep and chickens. Salmon fishermen live in caravans in the old garden and the farmer lives in a modern house a mile away on the main road.

However I was still able to wander around the house although I did not trust the stairs. I went around the tiny burial ground on Brims Ness, about half a mile further along the coast. It was a small area, completely sealed by traditional dry stone walls about four feet high. There was an entry point however, where large slabs jutted out from the wall and made steps. In one corner was a simple enclosure which probably once had a roof, this I took to be a small chapel. There were many graves in the area but most of it was covered by two or three feet of weeds and grass. I did not find any Brims graves but I am positive that my ancestors remains did lie underneath. Some of the names I did see were Henderson, Sutherland, Dick and Oman. All names that occur frequently in the history of our family.

The castle itself had a very sad feel about it that stayed with me for days. I would not be surprised if the stories of it being haunted by the 'white lady' are true.

On our way back to Thurso by tandem, we had a taste of just how quickly the weather can change in that part of the world. In a matter of minutes a fog came down and the temperature dropped several degrees, a cold crosswind blew up. As soon as we arrived back in Thurso the sun was out and the sky was blue again.

I also visited Old St Peters Kirk in the town, a derelict church that served the community from 1220-1832. In the graveyard, whilst looking for family graves, I met an old man who must have been in his seventies. He asked me what name I was looking for and when I said "Brims" his face lit up and he said, "So you've come home!" I was very moved by this, it was just as my Great Grandfather William had said eighty one years before......."There are people there who will welcome you home, yes home as they call it.....". The man went on to say that his mother was a Brims, a name that was once common in Thurso but there are none left now. He added that Brimses were courageous lifeboat men and the last Brims he knew of was Provost at Thurso during World War.

I visited the castle again in 1996 and found it had deteriorated in the last 10 years, but still retained the feel I had experienced before.

Ailsa Brims August 1999

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