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Meikle Ferry, Pier

Pier (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Meikle Ferry, Pier

Classification Pier (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Dornoch Firth; Ferrytown Pier; Evelix Cottage

Canmore ID 14662

Site Number NH78NW 28

NGR NH 72888 86961

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Dornoch
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NH78NW 28 72888 86961

Pier [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1994.

Pier [NAT]

Meikle Ferry (disused) [NAT]

OS (GIS) AIB, July 2006.

See also NH78NW 34 (Ferry).

For corresponding pier on the S side of the Dornoch Firth, at Meikle Ferry, Fery Point or Ness of Portnaculter, see NH78NW 31.

(Ferrytown: location cited as NH 792 870). At landward end of central wall of ferry pier: early 19th century. Support for oil lamp consisting of curved wrought iron legs with scrolls to square lamp base.

J R Hume 1997.

(Location cited as NH 729 869). Meikle Ferry. This landing place may be regarded as having served Dornoch [NH78NE 23], just as Ferry Point [NH78NW 31] of the Ness of Portneoculter [Ness of Portnaculter], the corresponding terminal, served Tain [NH78SE 40]. The sinking of an overloaded ferry in 1810 is remembered locally, perhaps because the 90 persons drowned were returning from a Communion in Tain, and included the Sheriff of Dornoch. The pier is situated at the southern tip of a sandy promontory round which the River Evelix flows W and then S into the Dornoch Firth. A record of 1834 (NSA) describes it as an excellent harbour where ships could lie in safety once they had passed the bar. THis may relate to the present pier site, as there is a sand bank directly to the S, and in 1793, besides serving as a ferry terminal, the place was used by ordinary shipping, the water being deep enough to allow them to approach the land (OSA). Earlier, however, as is suggested by a Macfarlane document dateable to the 17th century, which mentions a 'bay or inlet' with a good harbour between Skibo and Pulrossie. The reference in the NSA to coal ships anchoring 'below the town' to discharge their cargoes is probably connected with Dornoch Shore, Ferrytown on the promontory being merely a farm name. The Parliamentary Commissioners' Report makes cursory reference only.

Structure: the ferry pier projects about 150ft (45.6m) into the Dornoch Firth from the SE tip of the promontory to the S of the Evelix estuary. The long narrow blocks set on edge to pave the surface are keted into the kerb of large rectangular blocks, one of which is set with its longer sides at right angles to the pier face between each two set with longer sides in line with the rest of the pier. The parapet wall is set back from the western edge of the pier, leaving a platform on the W side only a little narrower than the main platform on the E. The wall, over 6ft (1.8m) high at its shoreward end, shows signs of three phases of building or reconstruction. To seaward, its end and top courses are rounded. Part of the iron strap which was bolted along the centre line of the wall head is missing. The sides of this part of the wall slope inwards from the base. There is less batter on the sides of the more landward looking part of the wall adjoining this. The top course of blocks here has a slightlu curved edge. Mortar is visible between the blocks of this middle section. The third part of the wall, at its shoreward end, has the same slightly sloping sides, a top course with straight edges, but no visible mortar. The iron strap runs from the base of the wall at its shore end, up to its summit and all the way along its top centre line as far as the damaged area at the sea end. These features appear consistent with a possibility of the middle section having, as usual, required the most repair.

A bottle-shaped iron strap-work light fitting of some elegance is clamped to the shore end of the parapet wall top. Between the wall end and the shore, the pier surface does not slope, and carts could have turned.

A Graham and J Gordon 1988.

The pier associated with the north side of the former Meikle Ferry crossing the Dornoch Firth.

J Wordsworth, SSSIs, Scottish Natural Heritage, 1993.


Field Visit (2013 - 2014)

Stone set ramp with 2 m high wall on western side. Ramp is 7 m wide & approx. 25 m long. Descends at a gradual gradient into the sea.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 2013

Field Visit (13 January 2014)

Pier associated with Meikle Ferry disaster of 16/08/1809 where 99 people died when the overloaded ferry capsized.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 13 Jan 2014


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