By 1610 Hilton was known as Balnaknok from the Gaelic, Bail’ a’ chnuic, town of the cliffs. The parish records of Fearn list the
communicants of both Hilton and Hilltown as though they were separate villages, though possibly a newer addition of Hilton fusing with the older part may be the explanation. A plan of Hilton in 1813 shows only two streets with a total of twenty four houses. Like Shandwick it provided refuge for victims of the Clearances, so that by 1832 there were fifty eight families, a later plan of around 1908 shows how great an increase in population there had been during the 19th century.
Many of the MacKays, now in Hilton, came originally from around Helmsdale in Sutherland during that time. Blacktown is shown on the 1813 map as a hamlet on the raised beach above the chapel at Hilton with people living there certainly until the middle of the 19th century.
Beyond it lies Cadboll where the ruins of Cadboll Castle still stand. This name is derived from the Norse Kattar-bol, cat-stead, as it seems that the cliffs there were the haunt of wild cats. Further east along the shore from Hilton there are the foundations of what may have been an older Hilton, more likely they were the homes of crofters, fishermen or were little farmsteads when the land there was cultivated.