Cromarty is the most perfect example of an 18th century Scottish Sea Port
Cromarty is well worth a visit, for those wanting to be transported back in time, to a different century. We recommend that you start at Cromarty Court House where you can hire a head set audio tour of the town of Cromarty. The town has many well preserved 18th century buildings to enjoy, including one of the oldest Protestant Churches in Scotland, Cromarty East Church. You will find this fascinating, with pews and seating from a different age. We would recommend a minimum of two hours, preferably an afternoon or a morning to get the full value of this special place.
Cromarty is situated on the north eastern tip of the Black Isle. Full of charm, character and history and only half an hour drive from Inverness with views of seven counties from the headland above. Cromarty has a natural harbour and is surrounded by rich agricultural ground.
There has been suggestion that Cromarty was a centre of Royal authority since at least the 10thC. It was given status of Royal Burgh in the 13thC. Although the Royal Burgh status was given up in 1685, Cromarty continued to thrive with the export of grain and the herring & salmon fisheries.
Cromarty Harbour was built between 1781 and 1784. In the 1780’s it was the principal harbour for the Cromarty Firth. However, trade declined for Cromarty after the construction of a harbour pier at Invergordon in 1828.
Cromarty’s economy was kept going in the late 19thC. by fishing and in the early 20thC. by the creation of a naval base in the Firth. The fortifications built to guard the entrance to the Firth are still standing on the North and South Sutors. Cromarty’s economy revived once more in the 1970’s with the development of oil related industries and the building of the Kessock Bridge.
Take a walk around the town and visit some of the historical sites of interest. We would strongly recommend the Audio Town Tour (which can be obtained from Cromarty Court House).
1. Cromarty Courthouse Museum. Discover Cromarty’s 18th century Courthouse, where 7 centuries of history is brought to life with 21stC technology. See the prison cells & a 1770’s trial in the courtroom; meet the eccentric Sir Thomas Urquhart & find out about the unspoiled 18thC seaport – from where many Highlanders’ emigration journeys started. Go on a digital audio tour around the lanes & cottages of Cromarty. Next door to Hugh Miller’s cottage(NTS) – joint ticket available. www.cromarty-courthouse.org.uk
Open 7 days, 1 April to 31 Oct. 10 to 5pm Tel:01381 600418
2. Forsyth House – This grand house was built in 1772 for William Forsyth, a successful merchant, also Justice of the Peace and a Superintendent for the county.
3. The Ice House – a 19thC. building used for storing ice to preserve salmon during the summer months.
4. The lanes and vennels of Fishertown This area would have once been a bustling community of Cromarty, where several families would have lived together in each of the simple dwellings in the narrow lanes and vennels.
5. Hugh Miller’s Cottage birthplace of Hugh Miller(1802-1856), geologist, stonemason and journalist, built by his grandfather from 1700 onwards (NTS).
6. Bellvue – A very impressive mansion house built in the mid 1790’s.
7. Hugh Miller Monument – Erected by the townspeople of Cromarty in 1859.
8. Gaelic Chapel – Built in 1783 by George Ross to allow incoming workers to worship in their own language.
9. The East Church – This well preserved church is the old parish church of Cromarty. It has been the site of worship since medieval times, there is a carved grave slab from the 14thC. on display in the west porch. The church shows the many changes that have taken place in Scotland’s churches throughout the centuries. Over the years as the congregations grew in size there were galleries built by the local landowners, who owned floor space in the church. Poor people sat on stools in the open spaces but the moneyed people of the parish had pews which they rented from the principal landowners who owned the floor space. The East Church is still used for some Sunday morning services during the summer and also for some special occasions.
10. Reeds Park Path – A level footpath along the shore at the est end of the town leading to the ‘100 steps’ which climb through the trees to the South Sutor.(See map). Alternatively there is an easy, level loop back to town via the Coalheugh well.
11. The Underground Tradesman’s Entrance – This fascinating underground entrance was built so that the occupants of the house wouldn’t see the comings and goings of the servants. The mansion was built in 1772 for George Ross.
12. St Regulus Graveyard – This is known by local children as the ‘Pirates Graveyard’ because of the skulls and bones carved on the gravestones.
13. The Grave of Sandy Wood – Sandy died in 1690 after a violent quarrel with a neighbour. The belief at that time was that The Final Judgement would take place on high ground above Cromarty. With this in mind it was Sandy’s request to be buried here so that he would be able to put his case first and have a head start on his neighbour.
14. The North and South Sutors – These rocks on either side of the Firth were formed during a period of mountain forming known as the Caledonian Orogeny around 500 million years ago. They are supposed to be the abode of two giant shoemakers who threw their tools at each other across the Firth.
15. The Lighthouse
16. Car Ferry to Nigg – summer only.
17. Cromarty Harbour – Built by John Smeaton and finished in 1784. Facilities for visiting yachts.