Explore Ross and Cromarty

Ross and Cromarty is an area of contrasts - from the fertile farmland of the east, to the mountains and crofting townships of the west.

Click on the map or the key to the right to browse some of the accessible, interesting sites to be found in Ross and Cromarty.

1. Strome Castle

Strome CastleThis castle, in existence before 1472, was the subject of a struggle for possession between the Macdonalds and the Mackenzies of Kintail, until it was captured and demolished by Kenneth Mackenzie in 1602. The castle was strategically placed and would have guarded the mouth of Loch Carron. MoreBack to top

2. Strome Meanach Township

Building in Strome Meanach TownshipThe township was abandoned in the late 19th century. You can see the remains of about 28 buildings - houses, barns, byres as well as field enclosures and a well-preserved corn-kiln by the burn. MoreBack to top

3. St Maelrubha's Monastery, Applecross

The present church and burial groundSt Maelrubha founded a monastery here in AD 673. Little trace of the original buildings can be seen today but a church still stands on the site. An unfinished stone cross stands by the entrance to the burial ground. The Applecross Heritage Centre, situated behind the old manse, contains two more fragments of carved crosses and a wealth of information about the sites of the peninsula. MoreBack to top

4. Red Point Fishing Station

Fishing station © Paul SwanThe fishing station consists of two stone and wooden buildings of which the easternmost was the fishermen’s bothy. For a short season each year, local fishermen came here to catch salmon by net in the sea. The tall poles are for hanging the nets up to dry. Up the bank are the remains of an ice house, where ice was stored for months before being used to preserve the catch. Unfortunately the buildings were badly damaged in the winter storms of 2007. MoreBack to top

5. Flowerdale House

Flowerdale House © Andrew TaylorA house has stood at Flowerdale from the 15th Century. This fine example of a laird's house was built in 1738 for Alexander Mackenzie of Gairloch and his new wife Janet, whose marriage is commemorated on the eastern gable.  It was the first house in the area with a slate roof and was called Tigh Dige nam gorm Leac - Moat House of the Blue Slates – which also refers to the original moated house on the site, Tigh Dige. MoreBack to top

6. Dun an Ruigh Ruadh

Dun an Ruigh Ruadh brochThis is an early example of a broch that has taken full advantage of a defensive location. The heavily fortified structure is really a ‘semi-broch’ as a section of cliff has been used to complete the defence. Horizontal slabs bond two wall faces together with space in between for cells, galleries and a stair. MoreBack to top

7. Dun Canna

Dun CannaAll along the western seaboard are small defensive sites known as duns, situated on rocky outcrops and promontories where often only the landward end had to be fortified to make the place secure. Dun Canna is a large example - its collapsed walls must have originally stood to a considerable height. MoreBack to top

8. Nigg

Nigg old parish church and burial groundRecords point to a church here from the 12th century. The current church dates to 1626 and has since been altered and extended. The church now contains the re-erected Nigg Stone – an intricately carved cross slab dating to the 8th-9th century. MoreBack to top

9. The Shandwick Stone

The Shandwick StoneA 'Class 2' cross slab dating to the 8th-9th century lies in its original, windswept position, despite having been blown down and broken in 1846. The stone is now protected by glass casing. MoreBack to top

10. Hilton of Cadboll

Hilton of Cadboll replica cross slabThe original 8th-9th century stone is one of the key exhibits in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, but the remains of the chapel site where it stood can still be seen and a finely carved replica has been put in its place. MoreBack to top

11. Fearn Abbey

Fearn parish churchA monastery near Ardgay on the Dornoch Firth was re-founded on its present site at Fearn in the 13th century by the Premonstratensian (or White) Canons. The building has been altered and repaired several times over the centuries, having fallen into ruin in both 1541 and 1742, but many medieval traces can still be seen. The building is now the parish church of Fearn. MoreBack to top

12. Fyrish Monument

Fyrish Monument in winter © Lynn FraserSir Hector Munro of Novar Estate, one of the great improving landowners of the late 18th century, ordered the building of this folly around the end of the century to provide work for his impoverished tenants. It is supposed to be a copy of the gates of the Indian city of Negapatam, the scene of one of Munro's military victories. The site offers a stunning view over the Cromarty Firth. MoreBack to top

13. Boath Chambered Cairns

Short horned chambered cairn at Boath © Graham GrantTwo of the three Neolithic cairns at Boath are still of considerable size, although the chambers are roofless. The third, in the field on the other side of the road, has been robbed down to just a few upright slabs. MoreBack to top

14. Dingwall Canal

View of Dingwall canalDingwall's sea access was always hampered by mud flats in the firth so a canal, designed by Thomas Telford, was built in 1817 to bring shipping with cargoes of timber, grain and coal directly into the town. It is said to be the most northernmost canal in Britain. Problems with silting remained and the arrival of the railway in 1863 finally put an end to use of the canal. MoreBack to top

15. Conon Bridge Henge

Henge at Conon BridgeA henge is a Neolithic ceremonial site, dating to around 5000 years ago. Henges are roughly circular, and surrounded by a ditch with an external bank. They often seem to have included rings of wooden posts within the ditch. MoreBack to top

16. Knockfarrel Hillfort

Knockfarrel Hillfort © John WombellThe remains of massive stone ramparts mark the former position of the fort which made good use of the natural defences of the hill-top. The ramparts are thought to have been built with a timber frame which, at some time, was set on fire creating enough heat to melt the rock. This process is known as 'vitrification' and traces can be seen on many exposed parts of the ramparts. MoreBack to top

17. The Eagle Stone, Strathpeffer

This is an early 'Class 1' type symbol stone dating to the 7th-8th century. The symbols are cut into a rough boulder standing on a small, possibly artificial, mound. An arch or horse-shoe and an eagle are depicted on one side. MoreBack to top

18. Strathpeffer Spa

Highland Hotel, Strathpeffer © Andrew TaylorThe curative properties of the sulphurated waters here were first noted in 1772, when Dr Donald Munro gave a paper on the 'Castle Leod Water' to the Royal Society. Their popularity took off following the arrival of the railway in 1885. Many buildings associated with the heyday of the spa can still be seen, including the restored Spa Pavilion, the Pump Room and gardens. The spa waters can still be sampled at the Pump Room. The restored Victorian Station now houses the Highland Museum of Childhood. Back to top

19. Fortrose Cathedral

Fortrose Cathedral © Andrew TaylorThe cathedral was the seat of the Bishops of Ross from about 1240, when it was moved here from Rosemarkie, and it remained in use until the Reformation in 1560. It is known to have been ruinous from at least the 1650s when stone was taken from it to build Oliver Cromwell's Fort in Inverness. MoreBack to top

20. Little Garve Bridge

Little Garve BridgeThe military road from Contin to Poolewe was built under the supervision of Major William Caulfeild, Inspector of Roads, during the 1760s. It formed part of a programme of road building in the Highlands, started by General Wade following the Jacobite rebellions. The roads and bridges were built entirely by military labour. This bridge crosses the Black Water River where it passes through a small gorge. MoreBack to top

The sites listed here are the most accessible as defined in the Ross and Cromarty Access to Archaeology Audit of 1999.