MHG8769 - Girnal - Shore Road, Invergordon


An early C18 long 2-storey harled former girnal (grain storehouse) in Invergordon. It was converted for use by the Admiralty in WWI and was subsequently used as part of a garage. It has since been converted for domestic use.

Type and Period (2)

  • STOREHOUSE (Built, 18th Century - 1701 AD to 1800 AD)
  • BLACKSMITHS WORKSHOP (First World War - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

An early C18 long 2-storey harled former girnal (grain storehouse) in Invergordon.

The building was listed at Category B in 1985.

Appearing to date to the early C18 and measuring 38.8m x 6.4m, it is the longest of the surviving girnals of this age on the north shores of the Cromarty Firth. It has steeply pitched crowstepped gables with square apex finials and the long rear wall with three unusually long centre windows are incorporated in the present garage complex. It might be the 'Storehouse' illustrated on a map of c.1750 of the estates of Sr John Gordon of Invergordon. It continued in use as a barleystore and then as a seed store, moving into the railway age when the branch line was built between it and the sea, but then when that trade declined it eventually became incorporated into a garage. <1>

Girnal or storehouse, may be associated with jetty or quay.
J Wordsworth, SSSIs, Scottish Natural Heritage, 1993

The site was investigated in 2015 as part of the ARCH project 'Invergordon in World War I'. The crow-stepped girnal from the early 18th century was engulfed by the time of the 2nd edition OS map (surveyed 1902) into a larger complex, with two railway lines coming into it, south of the girnal, and one continuing into the Bone Mill to the east. This suggests that by 1902 the girnal had been incorporated into a larger industrial building. On WWI plans in private possession the girnal part of the building is labelled as the 'C.C.'s Smithery'. It was separated by an alley from the E.E.'s workshop and drawing office to the north. Abutting the girnal on the north side was an E.E. Store and a semi-detached building containing an E.E. Store and an unlabelled function, and another unlabelled building, all probably small temporary buildings. To the south of the girnal/smithy was the N.S.O. Store. A WWI aerial photo shows that the southern part of the smithy and the store were contained in three bays oriented north-south, while the older girnal part of the smithy was oriented east-west. At the northern end of the central bay running north-south was a chimney. It is not clear how the two buildings joined, or how the Store related to the Smithy. The buildings are depicted on the 1930 aerial photo. A plan from WWII shows the girnal and area of the smithy labelled Highland Agricultural Company Store, and the N.S.O. Stores labelled Mill. According to the plan, this area was not part of the military area. The girnal still survives, but has been converted into housing. The rest of the smithy and the N.S.O. store to the south have been demolished, and replaced by new housing or the new road along the shore. An aerial photo from 1978 in the Invergordon Archive (no. 649) shows the store building, but one from the same year in the National Collection of Aerial Photography shows rubble where it had been. If the photographs are accurately dated, this suggests destruction in 1978. <2>

At least three versions of a WWI Naval plan survive, two in private collection which probably date to wartime, and one in the National Archives (MPI 1/641/4) which dates to 1921. On all three the buildings taken over or built by the Navy are shaded, but there are a few discrepancies between the plans. One of the plans in private collection has enlarged details, but only shows the Admiralty buildings and not others in the town. Valuation Rolls also indicate some buildings not shaded on our plans were taken over by the military. It is clear from contemporary photographs that the army built additional buildings, particularly north of Cromlet Drive. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NH 7096 6856 (39m by 11m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH76NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish ROSSKEEN

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Related Investigations/Events (1)

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