Shinness Lodge was built in 1882 by the Third Duke of Sutherland as one of some 26 highland lodges he built to attract sporting tenants. Each had an allocation of land for fishing and shooting. They were tenanted on an annual basis, normally for just August and September. The Duke was thus an early chalet developer.

During the 1870s, Mr Kenneth Murray, the local Royal Bank of Scotland agent in Tain, persuaded the Duke to improve the land at the southern end of the Tirry River to grow better crops and create more productive farms. 3,000 acres were drained and peat and stones removed by standing steam engines which dragged a plough (known as the Duke's toothpick) on steel hawsers. The cost was vast - some £200,000. The works are now commemorated by a monument to Kenneth Murray a mile or so from the Lodge. They are also a feature of the portrait of the third Duke which hangs in nearby Dunrobin Castle at Golspie. The farms were initially tenanted by the Duke's son and others including Iain Campbell and the Gray family. Most of the estate was made available for crofting after World War I and the first tenants were returned servicemen many of whose descendants are still working the crofts in Shinness. In 1922 the estate was bought by Mr Beldam and two small pictures in the dining room recall this era of walking up grouse with dogs. The Fletcher family bought the estate in 1941 and have lived in the Lodge since 1958.

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