MHG1709 - Ferrykeepers Cottage, John O'Groats House


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • FERRYKEEPERS COTTAGE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

John o' Groats House (NR) (site of)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

The site of house associated with legend of John o' Groat's building an octagonal house so that each of his eight relatives could enter by his own door. It contained an octagonal table.
The first John Grot on record was granted a charter of a ferry and land in Duncansby in 1496. Of 33 succeeding Grots to whom similar charters were granted, 19 were named John, but Mitchell was of opinion that John of legend was son of Finlay, who, in 1549, held 'the ferry-house and ferry and 20 feet round the ferry-house'. The last deed is dated 1715 and also mentions the ferry-house, ferry and ferry-boats, implying that the Grots controlled the ferry from 1496 to at least 1715 (Mitchell and Drummond 1875). In 1720's mention is made of 'the town of Duncansbay only remarkable for John a' Grott's House... Here is the dwelling house of Grott of Wares...' (Macfarlane 1906-8).
At that time ferries were still sailing to Barwick in South Ronaldsay, presumably for 'Ferry Haven (ND 3799 7347 which, in 1873 is 'said to have been place of embarkation to Stroma and Orkneys during earlier times' (ONB 1873).
In 1760 "Johnny Grott's House" was in ruins (Pococke 1887) and by 1793 it was 'totally gone but place where it stood retains name. The remains of oak table have been seen by many now living who have inscribed their names on it' (OSA 1793).
'A small triangular grassy mound abaout 30 feet in breadth, rising with a slight elevation from a strip of green pasture ground which runs parallel to sea-shore' was all that remained in 1873 (ONB 1873), while by 1957 a flagstaff had been erected on mound (Robertson 1957).
W Macfarlane 1906-8; R Pococke 1887; OSA 1793; Name Book 1873; A Mitchell and J Drummond 1875; F W Robertson 1957

The statement that a flagstaff now indicates the site of John o' Groat's house was confirmed at the Tourist Office, otherwise, no further information.
Visited by OS (J B) 21 July 1982.

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred ND 3795 7339 (30m by 30m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND37SE
Civil Parish CANISBAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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