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Strathpeffer, General

Town (Modern)

Site Name Strathpeffer, General

Classification Town (Modern)

Canmore ID 12455

Site Number NH45NE 57

NGR NH 4827 5822

NGR Description Centred on NH 4827 5822

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Fodderty
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Ross And Cromarty
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Archaeology Notes

NH45NE 57 4833 5185 (Centred)


Publication Account (1995)

An extraordinary collection of Victorian hotels and villas set among trees on a wooded hillside, this spa settlement has been called 'Scotland's answer to the Bavarian watering place'. Far from being the usual grim granite Victorian edifices, many are enlivened with harled walls and coloured paintwork. The first record of the springs on the Cromartie estate seems to be an account of the 'Castle Leod Waters' given to the Royal Society in London in 1772, and by the end of the century Strathpeffer had become a spa. At first its fortunes fluctuated, but great expansion came after the middle of the century with the arrival of the railway: the main Dingwall-Strome Ferry line in 1869 and then the branch line from Dingwall to Strathpeffer in 1885. These in turn led to the building of some large hotels, including the Highland Hotel with 127 bedrooms, which was built by the Highland Railway as late as 1909-11. In the season there were through carriages from London and a Strathpeffer Express from Aviemore. The lines were lifted in 1948, but the weatherboarded "Railway Station building of 1881, with a glassroofed canopy supported on cast-iron columns and decorative brackets, has been restored for use as a craft centre and Tourist Information Office and also houses a Highland Museum of Childhood.

Of the main Spa buildings the big Pump Room, begun in 1819, was demolished in 1950 when it became unsafe. The existing small Pump Room used to be called the Upper Pump Room and was built in 1839, in part as a place for the poor to have waters dispensed to them. There is said to have been an 'Institution for Poor Spa-Drinkers'. The white and green patterned tiles on the walls date to a 1901 redecoration. Water from several springs with different properties came through labelled taps. This charming building is presently neglected. Next to it stands the Pavilion, a large rather plain rectangular hall of 1879-81, which originally had an open veranda round it. Across the road from the Pump Room is Spa Cottage, a single-storey villa of 1820. The range of shops dating from the 1840s are harled and painted with attractive Dutch gables. There are several Victorian Gothic churches, the Episcopal Church of St Anne having stone, marble and alabaster altar, reredos and pulpit, together with stained glass windows. From small villas to large hotels, the rest of the buildings were designed for the summer tourist trade and the range of ornament includes towers, ornate verandas, rusticated porches, carved bargeboards, twisted columns and cast-iron roof finials.

In a field near the Railway Station is a Pictish symbol stone (no. 71), dating from about one thousand years earlier.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).

Field Visit (June 2015 - March 2016)

ARCH with Strathpeffer Community Centre undertook a project to record

memories and information about sites in Jamestown (a planned 19th-century village), Strathpeffer (a spa town which developed in the 18th and 19th centuries), and the Heights, a crofting landscape with a rich prehistoric past and remains of 19th-and 20th-centuries crofts.

Using OS maps as a base, participants shared memories, photographs and research about sites, and photographed current remains. This simple approach resulted in popular and well attended sessions which led to new information about many sites. A walking trail was created for Strathpeffer,

and sites and features listings for the other areas (available on the ARCH website). Displays were created for the Heights and Strathpeffer. Over 400 records with new information and updates on existing sites were submitted to the HER.

Archives of information have been deposited at Dingwall Library, Strathpeffer Community Centre, Strathpeffer Old Pump Room (tourist information point) and Highland Museum of Childhood at Strathpeffer Old Station.

Archive: Various locations in Strathpeffer (see text)

Funder: Heritage Lottery Fund, Mackenzie New York Villa Trust


Susan Kruse – Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH)

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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