is a village on the east coast of Sutherland, in the Highland
council area of Scotland. The Gaelic name for the village,
Bun Ilidh, means Ilie-foot.
Helmsdale Castle, the remains of which were demolished in the
1970s in order to build the new road bridge, was the location of
the murder of the 11th Earl of Sutherland in 1567. The Earl and
his Countess Marie Seton were poisoned by Isobel Sinclair.
In September 1562, Mary, Queen of Scots and her half-brother
James Stewart newly made Earl of Moray came north to Inverness
and Aberdeen. Their discussions with John's cousin the Earl of
Huntly led to armed conflict. After the battle of Corrichie,
secret letters between John Gordon and the Earl of Huntly were
discovered. John Gordon fled to Louvain in Flanders. At the
Parliament of Scotland on May 28, 1563, in the presence of Queen
Mary, Huntly and Sutherland were forfeited. In 1565 Queen Mary
of Scotland restored the Earls of Huntly, Sutherland and others
of the name Gordon who had been forfeited.
The Earl of Sutherland was invited to return to Scotland. The
Earl of Bedford, Governor of Berwick on Tweed sent a privateer
called Wilson who carried Swedish letters of marque to intercept
his ship, and the Earl was imprisoned at Berwick. Sutherland was
considered a danger to English policy in Scotland. Mary, Queen
of Scots, demanded the release of the Earl, who was now sick
with an ague. Bedford wrote to Elizabeth on his behalf. The Earl
was released in February 1566 after the assurance that he was
reconciled with the Earl of Moray. On his return he married
Marie Seton, daughter of Lord Seton. Both were poisoned at
Helmsdale Castle by Isobel Sinclair, and died at Dunrobin Castle
on 23 June 1567.