22 April 2014Public Meeting in Cromarty

The Friends of Hugh Miller cordially invite you to


“The Cromarty Hugh Miller knew”

Dr David Alston

Founder curator, Cromarty Courthouse Museum; chairman of the Middleton Trust for Cromarty young people; Councillor for the Highland Council’s Black Isle ward

3.30pm Old Brewery, Saturday 3rd May 2014

Light refreshments will be served


(Donations welcome)

Your chance to find out all about your forbears and their town


18 April 2014Our Annual Report for Session 2013-14

Firstly, thanks to you our audience (members and visitors) for continuing to support the society. Attendance at meetings remains solid.

Then, thanks to all of the committee members for ensuring:

that we have had another season of varied and interesting speakers
that our finances and administration are in good fettle
that our meetings run smoothly, with the hall ready and the technology is up and running 
the excellent catering provided at the end of all of our meetings, and which add to the social occasion
that our profile is kept to the forefront in the community with our distinctive posters and website and press reports 

With regard to our website, Sandy Thomson (who manages the site) reports that this year has seen a 39% increase in the number of visits to the site. There has also been a significant increase in enquiries addressed to the site - from people all over the world seeking information about people and events in Cromarty history. Our Library page is becoming recognised as a suitable archive for documents of local historic interest, and we have been pleased this year to host a collection of papers relating to the career of James Hall, shipowner of Rosskeen.

To remind you of this season’s programme: 

Cromarty lectures have included a report of the 2013 community archaeological excavation at Reed’s Park as well as insights in to the lives of local noteworthy figures – Hugh Miller, James Thompson and tonight we’ll hear about Sutherland Murray
Another theme to this year’s syllabus was to look at sources which help to make up the jigsaw of local history:

we heard about the case study of an abandoned baby in the late 19thC near Inverness which demonstrated how all available sources of information need to be considered and not just one source in isolation in order to get as a true picture as possible of an event
we were introduced to the Treasure Trove system through the hobby of metal detecting, with particular reference to activity on the Belladrum Estate
we also had a session on Family History looking at the various records and methods that can be used as well as reminding us of the value of collecting our own visual reminders and family mementos

then, broadening our net,  we looked at the history of Tarradale, a local Highland estate, and were treated to an armchair tour of Historic Scotland’s island based properties 

We hope you’ve enjoyed all the talks and would be delighted to hear about any suggestions you have for the next season, particularly if anyone would like to give their own talk – and can I stress that it doesn’t need to take up a whole session. Please have a word with any of the committee if you can help with any of this.
Our financial contribution of £200 to the Cromarty Courthouse this year has enabled some lighting projects to be undertaken – the light in the cell was replaced and the document store light was reconfigured.

12 April 2014Cromarty Man in the Yukon

Following a short AGM, the final talk of the season is given by Paul Monk, Curator and Chair of Trustees at Cromarty Courthouse Museum. Paul trained a as a geographer and geologist and worked in education for many years. Following early retirement, he developed a second career as a museum curator in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire and moved to Cromarty in 2008.

Paul’s talk follows Sutherland Murray’s gold prospecting career in the Yukon between 1898 and 1905. Sutherland subsequently lived for a number of years with his sister in St Ann’s, one of the fine old merchant’s houses on Church Street in Cromarty. Having access to his unpublished photograph collection, Paul takes us on a fascinating journey with a man who is still remembered by some of the older residents in Cromarty as ‘the one-eyed, one-armed gold digger’!

After this final talk, Cromarty History Society has a summer break and resumes on Thursday 18th September 2014. Thank you to all our speakers for another fabulous season of talks and our members and supporters for continuing to come along to meetings. We look forward to seeing you all in the Autumn.

09 April 2014Groam House Lectures Announced


The venue for the Annual Academic Lecture on THURSDAY 26th June at 7.30pm is

Fortrose Community Theatre (Fortrose Academy), Deans Rd, Fortrose, IV10 8TJ (01381 621252)

All other lectures are on Tuesdays at Seaforth Lodge, Station Square, Fortrose, IV10 8SZ at 7.30pm.

Admission to all lectures £4 (Members/Students £2).


29 April       From Neolithic times to the Present via George Bain: Ian Begg

27 May       The Black Isle Railway: Jack Kernahan


                 Dying a Pict: barrows, carved stones and the landscape:

                 Dr Adrián  Maldonaldo, Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Chester

29 July      The Archaeology of Fortriu – recent discoveries in Easter Ross:  Candy Hatherley, University of Aberdeen

26 August   From hunter gatherers to Robert Bruce – the Archaeology of Tarradale in the west of the Black Isle

                 Dr Eric Grant, Tarradale

16 September  Cromarty Medieval Burgh Community Archaeology Project 2013 and 2014

                 Steven Birch, West Coast Archaeological Services

29 March 2014Highland Heritage Festival

Sat 26th April, Dingwall Academy, 10am-4pm

Family Festival celebrating Highland Community Archaeology, with fun for the whole family!

Highland & National Heritage Stalls

Hands-on Activities & Workshops for Children and Adults

Craft Demonstrations

Heritage Marketplace with books & crafts and much more...

For further details see www.archhighland.org.uk or leave message on 01349 868230



13 March 2014The Murchisons of Tarradale - our March meeting

Eric Grant read geography at Aberdeen University, gained a Ph.D in Historical Geography followed by a master’s course in Archaeology at Cambridge University. Eric has good reason to have a deep interest and knowledge of the Tarradale Estate. He stayed at Tarradale House, on the north bank of the River Beauly many times when it was a University Field Centre, and since 2003 has had the “good fortune” to live there, having spent several years converting it back to a comfortable home.!

This talk will be about the emergence of Tarradale as a landholding from the mists of the middle ages and how Dr Kenneth Murchison bought it and improved it with Indian sourced money. His son, Sir Roderick Murchison, the eminent Victorian geologist and friend of Hugh Miller, sold the estate in the nineteenth century and Tarradale became part of a bigger landholding with the estate mansion, Tarradale House, becoming a separate unit with a fascinating history of its own.! 

13 February 2014Cromarty Archaeology Report

The dramatic storms and high tides of December 2012 eroded an area of shore below the Reeds Park in Cromarty, exposing layers of shell midden, ash and soil in which fish bone, animal bone and broken medieval pottery were found. Steven Birch, who lives in Cromarty and is director of West Coast Archaeological Services saw the potential of further investigation and the Cromarty Medieval Burgh Community Archaeology Project was set up. The fieldwork culminated in a hugely successful excavation in the summer of 2013, with volunteers of all ages enjoying the experience of working alongside professional archeologists.

This talk will bring us up to date with the findings of the dig and plans for the project in 2014.




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