11 December 2019Meeting Thursday 19th December 2019

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Thursday 19th December 2019: Telling the Highland Story — 30 years reporting the news from the north

David will review his years working in the Highlands and Islands and the range of stories he covered in that time both for the paper and in his book — from the demise of the Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness to the launch of the modern community land movement in Assynt; from the battle over the Skye Bridge tolls to Highland religion and Cromarty’s own fight over the ship-to-ship oil transfers. It will consider these in the context of the old adage that ‘journalism is the first rough draft of history’. It will also address the continuing controversy over Highland history, particularly the Highland Clearances, and the treatment it is afforded in the media.

David Ross has lived in Cromarty for well over 30 years. The Ross-shire community was the northern outpost of the (Glasgow) Herald’s operation, while he was the paper’s Highland Correspondent. He had come north with his family from Edinburgh, where he had met his future wife Mary, the daughter of the renowned poet Sorley MacLean. They were both students in the capital, and married there. After studying history at Edinburgh University, he began his career in journalism on the Scottish edition of the Times Educational Supplement before joining the staff of the Herald, initially in the paper’s Edinburgh office.

Two years ago, The Scottish Parliament noted his retirement from The Herald as a journalist who had covered the Highlands for that newspaper since 1988, praising his dedication to the region and further noting his award in 2017 of the Barron Trophy for lifetime achievement in journalism.

In October last year his memoir of his working life, was published by Birlinn entitled “Highland Herald.”

Cromarty History Society meets in the West Church Hall, Cromarty at 7.30pm on the the third Thursday of each month, September - April

25 November 2019Tarradale Through Time Events

Tarradale Through Time Display in Cromarty

The Tarradale Through Time archaeological display of three seasons of excavation is in Cromarty library until the 30th. December. It includes a new panel on this years spectacular results of the Pictish Barrow cemetery. Further information about Tarradale Through Time is available on their website.

Fund Raising for Pictish Cross-Slab

North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS) and the Pictish Arts Society (PAS) are jointly raising funds for the conservation and management of a spectacular Pictish cross-slab that was recently discovered near Dingwall. Further details of the stone and its discovery can be found on the NOSAS Website.

04 November 2019The Hugh Miller Writing Competition — 2019-20

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51 Best Places to see Scotland’s Geology

The Hugh Miller Writing Competition 2019-20 invites entries inspired by one or more of the 51 Best Places to see Scotland’s Geology.

Prose and poetry entries from all ages are welcome. It’s free to enter. The competition launched on the 19th of October 2019. The closing date for entries is midnight on the 15th of March 2020.

For more details visit www.scottishgeology.com/hughmiller

03 November 2019Meeting Thursday 21st November 2019

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Thursday 21st November 2019:Cromarty Emigrants — and the ships that took them

In 1998, the Courthouse published a study by Janet (Jenny) Fyfe, a key member of the Society, on this same subject. It dealt with emigrations specifically between 1707 and 1850 and identified America, Canada and the West Indies as the primary destinations for Cromarty-born folk or erstwhile residents of the town, although India, New Zealand, China and Australia also took their share. Whilst there is a wealth of information in the historical record, she and others have found that definitive information regarding the sailings, the numbers and names of passengers, the destinations and even the fates of the voyages are sometimes incomplete. She also found that the usual patterns of both Highland and Lowland emigration didn’t accurately apply to Cromarty emigration and concluded that this ‘needs further study’.

Sandy Thomson retired from Strathclyde University and moved to Cromarty twenty years ago. While studying Scottish History on Dundee University’s distance learning programme he became a very active member of Cromarty History Society and was our Convener for many years. He has been a regular speaker at our meetings, focusing on topics of local interest. On this occasion he will be paying tribute to the late Professor Jenny Fyfe by updating some of her early researches into emigration from Cromarty.

Cromarty History Society meets in the West Church Hall, Cromarty at 7.30pm on the the third Thursday of each month, September - April

23 October 2019Groam House Meeting October 31st 2019

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We have been asked to advertise the Groam House Lecture on “Perceptions of the Picts — contemporary popular interpretation ” by Matt Ritchie on 31st. October.

16 October 2019Cancellation of meeting on 17th. October

We apologise. The talk on, “Healing Wells”, 17th. October is cancelled. Our speaker is not well and has apologised for not being able to perform.

09 October 2019Meeting Thursday 17th October 2019

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Healing wells —Their contemporary use, history and folklore

In 1571 the Scottish Parliament passed an act, forbidding people from making pilgrimages to Healing Wells (also known as Holy Wells and Clooty Wells). In 2005, it was estimated that there were in excess of 80 thousand votive offerings at three surviving wells in the Highlands of Scotland, and this in an area with the full range of health services and a deep respect for organized religion in the form of the Christian faith. In the first instance this talk will pay attention to what they have survived, this includes:

  • The Christianisation of Scotland,
  • The Protestant Reformation,
  • The Enlightenment project,
  • The ‘medicalisation’ of the Highlands of Scotland, and finally,
  • The wells have survived increasing urbanisation.
In addition this talk will give examples of the contemporary use with interpretation of these sites.


Roddy McKenzie retired in 2017 after 38 years as a mental health nurse. He moved to this area in 1990 living in Inverness before moving to Evanton in 1997 where he still lives. In 1991 he had his first encounter with a clooty well (at Munlochy) and that sparked an interest which, allied to a deep interest in spiritual care within health care, led to his PhD research which examined the relationship between the contemporary use of healing wells and nursing care.

Cromarty History Society meets in the West Church Hall, Cromarty at 7.30pm on the the third Thursday of each month, September - April.

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