Dornoch is a sea-side town on the East coast of Sutherland. There is considerable evidence of human settlement in the area from pre-historic, Viking and Pictish times. In the 13th century Dornoch Cathedral , a parish church, was established under the episcopate of Gilbert of Moravia.
In the 17th and 18th centuries cattle from Caithness were traded in markets further south as far as Falkirk and beyond The cattle had to be herded and driven down towards Helmsdale, Brora and Dornoch and further south thereafter. Along the route trysts and fairgrounds developed where the traders could rest and trade. Some of these became settlements and this led to the development of water-mills and flour-mills in the area.
A flow of water was required to run these mills and since the Evelix river was available to provide this necessity a Dornoch Cathedral settlement developed in the area. A channel was cut by Cathedral monks from the river Evelix at Rearquhar to bring running water to Dornoch to work the flour-mill and service the inhabitants. The remnants of the canal, the Monks’ canal can be seen a few metres down the Astle road from its junction with the main valley road. The canal is cut across by the Astle road before the river bridge and hugs the steep bank of an abandoned course of the river, now well set back from the flood plain.