Coordinates: 57°40′52″N 4°02′06″W / 57.681°N 4.035°W / 57.681; -4.035
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(Redirected from Royal Burgh of Cromarty)

Cromarty is located in Ross and Cromarty
Location within the Ross and Cromarty area
Population660 (mid-2020 est.)[1]
OS grid referenceNH785675
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtIV11
Dialling code01381
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°40′52″N 4°02′06″W / 57.681°N 4.035°W / 57.681; -4.035

Cromarty ( /ˈkrɒmərti/ ; Scottish Gaelic: Cromba, IPA: [ˈkʰɾɔumpə]) is a town, civil parish and former royal burgh in Ross and Cromarty, in the Highland area of Scotland. Situated at the tip of the Black Isle on the southern shore of the mouth of Cromarty Firth, it is 5 miles (8 km) seaward from Invergordon on the opposite coast. In the 2001 census, it had a population of 719.[2]


The name Cromarty variously derives from the Gaelic crom (crooked), and from bati (bay), or from àrd (height), meaning either the "crooked bay", or the "bend between the heights" (referring to the high rocks, or Sutors, which guard the entrance to the Firth), and gave the title to the Earldom of Cromartie.[3] In 1264, its name was Crumbathyn.[4]

Cromarty is a sea port, and its economy was closely linked to the sea for most of its history. Fishing was the major industry, with salmon stations around the surrounding coast, and boats going out to catch herring. Other trade was also by boat: Cromarty's connections to surrounding towns were largely by ferry, while Cromarty boats exported locally-grown hemp fibre, and brought goods such as coal. The Cromarty Firth is an outstanding natural harbour, and was an important British naval base during the First World War and the Second World War. HMS Natal blew up close by on 30 December 1915 with a substantial loss of life. [a] Cromarty gives its name to one of the sea areas of the British Shipping Forecast.

Cromarty Castle was the seat of the Urquharts, who were the hereditary sheriffs of Cromarty. The town was a royal burgh, and the ferry to Nigg was on the royal pilgrimage route north to Tain. In 1513 James IV of Scotland went on a pilgrimage[5] and stayed in Cromarty Castle for 1 night. Until 1890, it served as the county town of Cromartyshire.

Etching of Cromarty from Scotia Depicta by James Fittler

The site of the town's mediaeval burgh dating to at least the 12th century was identified by local archaeologists after winter storms in 2012 eroded sections of the shoreline. A community archaeology project, which began in 2013, is investigated the remains of roads and buildings at the site on the eastern edge of the present town.[6]

Cromarty was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Urquhart, the polymath Royalist most famous as the first translator of Rabelais into English.[3]

In the nineteenth century, Cromarty was the birthplace and home of Hugh Miller, a geologist, writer, journalist and participant in the Disruptions in the Church of Scotland. Among his works was a collection of local folklore, such as the legend, dating from around 1740, that a Cromarty man named John Reid was granted three wishes from a mermaid, and that he used one of the wishes to marry a woman named Helen Stuart.[7]


The burgh is noted as a base for viewing the local offshore sea life. These include one of the most northerly groups of bottlenose dolphins. Cromarty, along with Chanonry Point just round the coast, is one of the best places in Europe to see these animals close to the shore.

The predominant local stone is the Old Red Sandstone about which Hugh Miller wrote. Many fossils can also be found in the rocks along the coast.


UK Parliamentary constituency[edit]

Cromarty is in the UK Parliament constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber, represented since 2015 by Ian Blackford, ex-Leader of the SNP group in Westminster.

Following the Act of Union in 1707, the British parliamentary constituency of Cromartyshire was created, replacing the former Parliament of Scotland shire constituency. also called Cromartyshire. Paired as an alternating constituency with neighbouring Nairnshire, the freeholders of Cromartyshire elected one Member of Parliament to one Parliament, while those of Nairnshire elected a Member to the next.[8][9][10][11] In 1832 the town of Cromarty was separated from the county, and became a parliamentary burgh, combined with Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall, Tain and Wick in the Northern Burghs constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Known also as Wick Burghs, the constituency was a district of burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament. In 1918, the constituency was abolished and the Cromarty component was merged into the county constituency of Ross and Cromarty. Following a boundary change in 1983, the sitting MP, Hamish Gray (Conservative and Unionist Party) was defeated by Charlie Kennedy (SDP, later Liberal then Liberal Democrats), who would go on to lead the Liberal Democrats, and who represented Cromarty until 2015, as the MP for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (1983–1997), Ross, Skye and Inverness West (1997–2005) and then Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

Scottish Parliament Constituency[edit]

In the Scottish Parliament, Cromarty has been represented since 2016 by Kate Forbes, an SNP politician and former Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Scottish Government, as part of the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency. Prior to 2011, it was part of the Ross, Skye and Inverness West Constituency. As well as the constituency MSP, Cromarty is represented by seven additional-member MSPs, elected across the Highlands and Islands Region. Since the 2017 Westminster election (when Douglas Ross resigned to take up a seat at Westminster), these have been John Finnie (Green), Maree Todd (SNP), David Stewart and Rhoda Grant (Labour), Jamie Halcro Johnston, Edward Mountain and Donald Cameron (Conservative).

Coat of arms of Cromarty and District Community Council

Local Authority

Cromarty is within the Highland council area, the successor to the Highland region which superseded the local government county of Ross and Cromarty in 1975. Since the local elections in 2017, its councillors, for the Black Isle ward, have been Craig Fraser (SNP), Gordon Adam (Liberal Democrats) and Jennifer Barclay (Independent).

Community Council

The Cromarty and District Community Council consists of seven members, elected for four-year terms.[12] Three of these members are elected annually to serve as chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.[12] Its coat of arms, granted in 1988, are based on the arms of Urquhart of Cromarty, with a mural coronet placed in the middle of the boars’ heads, signifying a town, and the motto is that of the Urquharts. The official blazon is: Or, three boars' heads erased Gules, armed and langued Azure, in the centre of the shield a mural coronet of the Second. Above the Shield is placed a mural coronet suitable to a statutory Community Council, videlicet:- a circlet richly chased from which are issuant four thistle leaves (one and two halves visible) and four pine cones (two visible) Or, and in an Escrol below the Shield this Motto "Meane Well, Speak Weil, and Doe Weil".

Architecture and landmarks[edit]

Cromarty Courthouse

Cromarty is architecturally important for its Georgian merchant houses, such as Forsyth House, built by William Forsyth, that stand within a townscape of Georgian and Victorian fisherman's cottages in the local vernacular style. It is an outstanding example of an 18th/19th century burgh, "the jewel in the crown of Scottish Vernacular Architecture".[13] The cottage with crow-stepped gables in Church Street, in which the geologist Hugh Miller was born (in 1801), is now the only remaining thatched building in Cromarty, with most houses having switched to slate roofs.[14]

To the east of the burgh is Cromarty House, built by George Ross in 1772 on the site of the former Cromarty Castle, which he demolished. Ross also built several other notable buildings in Cromarty: a seven-bay brewery, at the time the biggest in the Highlands, of which two bays remain (now used as a residential arts and training centre); Cromarty Courthouse, now a museum;[15] a hemp factory, converted into housing in the 1970s; the harbour, designed by John Smeaton; and a new chapel just outside the town to hold services in Gaelic for the many Gaelic-speaking workers who moved to Cromarty in the period, later used by Polish soldiers during the Second World War.[16]

While the Gaelic chapel is now ruined, its graveyard is still active as Cromarty's cemetery, and the town's war memorial and a monument to Hugh Miller are situated next to it. Other buildings of note in Cromarty include the Stevenson Lighthouse, built in 1846, and the East Kirk, an important example of a medieval kirk in the Scottish vernacular, restored in the 2000s by the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.[17]


Historically most travel to Cromarty would have been by ship: ferries connected the town with Invergordon, and Cromarty's post continued to arrive by boat into the 20th century. The historic ferry route between Cromarty and Nigg was served until 2009 by Britain's smallest vehicle ferry, the Cromarty Rose. The Cromarty Rose was sold in 2009 and replaced for the 2011 season by a new four-car ferry called the Cromarty Queen, which continued the service from 2011 to 2014. After a year with no ferry in 2015, new operators, Highland Ferries, were awarded the ferry contract and re-commenced the regular service between Cromarty and Nigg with the Renfrew Rose running from June to September, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, once again offering a direct route North from the Black Isle.


Cromarty has a small primary school named Cromarty Primary School with around 50 students. The University of Aberdeen Department of Zoology Lighthouse Field Station is based in Cromarty.

Community and culture[edit]

The small community is also known for being a hub of creative activity, with several arts venues, local artists and a small cinema. The Cromarty Arts Trust, which restored several buildings in the town, including the Brewery and the Stables, organises a programme of arts and music events, including concerts and gigs, an annual Crime and Thrillers weekend, a Harp Weekend and stone letter carving and silver working courses, while the Cromarty Group of artists hold an annual exhibition of their work. Other local community groups include the Cromarty History Society, which holds regular lectures, and the Cromarty and Resolis Film Society, which organises a Film Festival every December. Guests of the 2008 festival included Kirsty Wark, Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson, Janice Forsyth, David Mackenzie and Michael Caton-Jones. Each guest selected five of their favourite films, one of which was shown during the weekend. In addition to the Favourite Films, there is an outdoor screening on a Gable End, Scottish Gaelic Short films, Animation workshop, photographic exhibition and late night Pizza and Film screenings.

In recent years, as elsewhere in Scotland, coastal rowing has become a major activity, and there are three skiffs based in Cromarty, which take part in competitions across Scotland. The Cromarty Community Rowing Club also hosts its own regatta in the summer.[18]

Traditional dialect[edit]

The town made the news in October 2012 when Bobby Hogg, the last speaker of the traditional local North Northern Scots dialect, died.[19] This was referred to on HeraldScotland as a dialect of the Scots language,[20] although a report on BBC Radio 4 said that the dialect had been strongly influenced by the English spoken at the local naval base and that it was one of the few areas in Scotland to exhibit H-dropping.[21] Hogg had previously compiled a booklet of traditional words and phrases.[22][23][24] In addition, the Highland Council had produced a digital booklet on the dialect. This states that the thou forms were still in common use in the first half of the 20th century and remained in occasional use at the time of publication.[25]



  1. ^ From 1890 (under terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889) to 1975 Cromartyshire was merged with Ross-shire under the Ross and Cromarty county council. Ross and Cromarty has later usage as the name of a district of the Highland region (1975 to 1996), and is today an area committee of the modern Highland unitary authority.


  1. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  2. ^ "Comparative Population Profile: Cromarty Locality". Scotland's Census Results Online. 29 April 2001. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  3. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cromarty". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 483.
  4. ^ AD Mills (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press. p. 140.
  5. ^ //
  6. ^ "Project Background". Cromarty Medieval Burgh Community Archaeology Project. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  7. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 436. ISBN 9780340165973.
  8. ^ "Cromartyshire | History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Cromartyshire | History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Cromartyshire | History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Cromartyshire | History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Cromarty Live | Community Council". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  13. ^ David Ross (1 October 1994). "Prince views a 'jewel in the crown'". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Hugh Miller's Birthplace cottage and museum". National Trust for Scotland. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  15. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Cromarty Court House Museum including prison, gatepiers, boundary wall and railings, Church Street, Cromarty (LB23585)". Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Cromarty Image Library – Gaelic Chapel – c1916". Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Cromarty East Church". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  18. ^ "Regattas". CROMARTY COMMUNITY ROWING CLUB. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Cromarty fisherfolk dialect's last native speaker dies". BBC News. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  20. ^ David Ross (2 October 2012). "Dialect's demise as final speaker dies at 92". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  21. ^ BBC Radio 4 – Six O'Clock News, 2 October 2012, from 28:30 until the end of the broadcast
  22. ^ "Rare fisherfolk dialect recorded". BBC News. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  23. ^ Auslan Cramb (21 February 2007). "Brothers are last to speak dialect". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  24. ^ Matt Kennard (26 February 2007). "Anyone here speak Cromarty fisher?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  25. ^ The Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect (PDF), Am Baile, The Highland Council's History and Culture website (on Internet Archive), p. 5, archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2015

External links[edit]