MHG19664 - Former threshing Mill - John O'Groats


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Type and Period (1)

  • THRESHING MILL (19th Century - 1845 AD? to 1846 AD?)

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Full Description

An early-mid C19 former mill at Huna, to the west of John O'Groats, Caithness. It was probably originally built in the 1840s as the main grinding mill, replacing an earlier mill on a different alignment slightly to the north (see MHG13816). It was subsequently re-modelled in 1901 to operate as a threshing mill, with the former threshing mill to the north re-modelled and re-built as the main grinding mill (see MHG1728). Now converted to domestic use/holiday let.

(Location cited as ND 372 733). John O' Groats Mills. The larger mill, built in 1750 and rebuilt in 1901, is a handsome 3-storey rubble building, on an L plan, with a double kiln. The machinery is driven by an 8-spoke overshot wood and iron wheel, 4ft 3ins (1.3m) wide by 13ft (3.96m) diameter. Nearby is a smaller mill (ND37SE 44.00) with a similar wheel, 2ft 10ins (0.86m) wide by 12ft (3.66m) diameter. <1>

The building was listed at Category B in 1984 with the associated former grinding mill (see MHG1728) to the northeast, stable/workshop (see MHG47076) to the south and bridge (see MHG1729) to the north.

John O'Groats Mill, Huna. Two corn mills: the larger (1750) was originally a threshing mill, but was rebuilt in 1901 as a corn mill. This reversed the function of the smaller mill (1846) which then became the threshing mill. The former has a tall double-vented kiln, the mill motivated by an overshot wheel. Both mills share the same lade. <2>

In 2013 AOC Archaeology Group was commissioned by the Princes Regeneration Trust in association with the North Highland Initiative to undertake the first phase of works of a much wider vision for the future of the abandoned John O'Groats Mill. These works, undertaken between 4th-8th March and 14th March, included: a desk-based assessment and walkover survey of the land within the ownership of the mill owner; a detailed measured survey of the mill; a general topographic site plan of the area including the mill pond and its associated waterways; a detailed written and photographic survey of the mill, the mill cottages and the abandoned cottages to the north-west, as well as the adjacent 17th century Cromwellian Bridge; an inventory of all the moveable artefacts inside the mill and a geophysical survey on the ground surrounding the mill (carried out by Rose Geophysical Consultants).

This mill (referred to a the northern Mill Cottage) was constructed in the 1840s as the main mill building with overshot wheel to the north side. Once the new 1901 mill was constructed, however, this was relegated to a threshing mill, its function until it ceased operations. It has now been converted to a holiday let and the original gearing still exists below the floorboards of the north side. It is a 4 x 1 bay double-height building with a pitched Caithness flag roof and raised skews. The southernmost bay is raised, although the build looks contemporary so there is an assumption that the mill was originally all built as one.

The geophysical survey uncovered nothing but land drains to the field adjacent to the mill to the east, although there were some anomalies to the west of the present mill which may represent what remains of an earlier 1818 mill and/or pre-1818 mill (dating to at least the mid-18th century, probably earlier).

It was recommended that the next phase of works centre on excavations to the area to the west of the mill in conjunction with a general cleaning up of the area of the bridge in conjunction with the conservation plans of the mill. In addition, a closer examination of the artefacts within the mill has provided a general strategy for conservation and display. There is a huge scope for future community involvement in both these stages of the process, including visits, open days and oral history projects. <3> <4>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred ND 3717 7332 (15m by 17m)
Map sheet ND37SE
Civil Parish CANISBAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

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Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

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