Dornoch Heritage Story Map displayed in The Culloden Battlefield Memorial
The story Map was created by artist John Hodkinson and storyteller Bob Pegg, working together with Historylinks Curator Sue Higgins, Historylinks volunteers, members of the Dornoch Community, and residents and staff of the Oversteps Care Home.
From the top left, clockwise, here is a brief summary of the stories:
Before fishing for freshwater mussel pearls was banned in 1998, pearl fishers were a common sight in Highland rivers. Here is Geordie Davies, from a well known pearl fishing family, photographed with Catherine Mackay, together with a brooch Catherine had made from pearls she bought from Geordie.
In 1727 Janet Horne and her daughter were both accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death. Her daughter escaped, but lanet went to the flames, the last person in Britain to be executed as a witch. The commemorative stone for this sad event (inscribed with the incorrect date of 1722) was later incorporated into a garden in Littletown and surrounded by flowers, and is remembered by Cathy Forsyth whose father created the garden.
Dornoch characters (from top left, clockwise: the Green Man, to the right of the south entrance to Dornoch Cathedral; town crier Simon Bain, circa 1955; milkman Bill Wright, circa 1930; Miss Kathleen Lyon, who died in 1983 in her 98″ year, a keen local historian and amateur photographer the Dornoch Imp; the formidable Kirsty Grant, scooter rider and science teacher at Dornoch Academy, circa 1955;
School photo including Miss Davidson.
Battle of Embo was fought some time around the middle of the 13″ century. A party of Danes had landed at Little Ferry and encamped near Embo. The Earl of Sutherland asked Richard de Moravia to hold them in check while he gathered a force strong enough to defeat them. The plan worked, and the Danes were routed on the arrival of the Earl. During the battle Richard was killed and the Earl reputedly slew the Danish leader with the leg of a horse, an incident that accounts for the horseshoe on Dornoch’s present coat-of-arms. Recreation – the Royal Dornoch Golf Club is world famous (bottom couple of images), and the area boasts a wide range of recreational activities (from top left, clockwise: Curling (with whiskey bottle) at Loch an Treel, 1930s; Dornoch pipe band, 1958 gillies with dogs; the diving rock off Dornoch beach, now hidden under sand, the Barrie tennis shield, 1950s, children caddying; Hector Ross, hotel owner and
curling champion. Tickets and ticket dispenser from the era of the old cinema.
St Gilbert, who founded Dornoch Cathedral in 1224, tackled a firebreathing dragon which had been destroying the Highland forests. Gilbert pierced the dragons heart with an arrow. The stone of the beast near Camore wood marks the place of the dragons demise.
For centuries the Meikle Ferry was the only way to cross the Dornoch Firth without a long overland journey. On 16th August 1809 it became the scene of a tragic disaster when, overloaded, the ferry sank resulting in the deaths of ninety nine passengers. The Meikle Ferry was finally closed down in 1957, as more and more people began to take the southern route by Road, via Bonar Bridge.
A long time ago a band of troublesome fairies was set the task of building a bridge of sand across the Dornoch Firth. Each time the job was almost complete the tide washed the bridge away and work had to begin again. Although a road bridge was opened over the firth in 1991, the fairies still pursue their task. At low tide their handiwork can be seen in the famous sand bank, which is known as the Gizzen Briggs.
In 1902 a group of Dornoch businessmen opened the Dornoch Light Railway, a branch line which connected to the main Highland Railway some 7 miles away at the Mound. Two years later they opened the Station Hotel with sixty stylish rooms and all the latest facilities. For the next thirty years the hotel was a magnet for wealthy tourists. For many local people the Dornoch Light Railway was a gateway to the rest of the world, but by the 1950s car ownership became the norm and rail travel declined. Dornoch’s Light Railway was deemed unprofitable and in July 1960 its much loved coffee pot engine
steamed to the Mound for the last time.
Dornoch at war (clockwise, from top: planes on golf course during WWII; the death of Earl Sigurth, around 895, from the poisoned tooth of a decapitated enemy; cannon in Witch’s Pool; WWI permit book; Sutherland Arms on fire, 1941; in the centre is the Ospisdale brooch – found in 1830 – from the 10 th century, the time of Norse occupation.
Additional images by Brora Butterworth and Ralph Phipson.