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Portsoy, Shorehead, Old Harbour

Harbour (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Portsoy, Shorehead, Old Harbour

Classification Harbour (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Portsoy Old Harbour; Shore Street; Moray Firth

Canmore ID 17932

Site Number NJ56NE 13

NGR NJ 58894 66347

NGR Description Centred NJ 58894 66347

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/17932

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Fordyce
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Banff And Buchan
  • Former County Banffshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ56NE 13.00 centred 58894 66347

Old Harbour [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1988.

NJ56NE 13.01 NJ c. 5894 6633 Lighthouse [Beacon]

For (associated) Portsoy Harbour Station (NJ 5899 6584), see NJ56NE 10.

For (adjacent and associated) warehouses (at NJ 5886 6634), see NJ56NE 37.

For New Harbour (Shore Street) at NJ 5905 6645, see NJ56NE 39.00.

(Cited as Portsoy harbour and warehouses, and location cited as NJ 589 665). Built 1692 and extended 1830. Really two harbours, the smaller and older comprising an L-plan pier, a straight pier and and L-plan quay, together forming a roughly-ractangular basin; the masonry of the quay is vertcally set. The more recent works comprise a massive rubble L-plan pier and a straight pier, forming a rectangular basin.

Lining the quays of the smaller basin are four rubble warehouses [NJ56NE 37]. Two 3-storey blocks (one 5-bay with crow-stepped gables and the other 6-bay with an external stair to the first floor) appear to be earlier than the other pair (4-storey by 6-bay and 3-storey by 4-bay, with asbestos roofs).

J R Hume 1977.

Portsoy is marked on Blaeu's Map, but the first harbour seems to have been built by Sir Patrick Ogilvie of Boyne, perhaps not long before 1701, in which year customs duties on marble from his quarries were remitted for nineteen years in recognition of the expenses that he had incurred; in 1724 the place was credited with 'a safe harbour and Bullwork'.

A new harbour was built by the Earl of Seafield between 1825 and 1828, but the pier enclosing it was demolished by storms in 1839 and in 1842 (the date at which the last of these events was recorded) only the old harbour was in use. At that time some eight to ten vessels were owned in the place, and a similar number of foreign ones (mainly from the Baltic) traded there; exports consisted mainly of grain and herrings. In 1847 Portsoy was classed as a 'small pier harbour', having an inner and an outer basin.

Most of the existing structure probably represents rebuilding carried out in 1884, but the variety of the types of masonry - eg: rough blocks, small squared blocks and courses of stones set vertically, this last paralleled at Burghead - points to work of more than a single period. A bollard on the central jetty, formed from a large undressed block, has an air of considerable antiquity while some of the old warehouses that front on the harbour probably date from an early stage in its development.

A Graham 1979, visited 1973.

The old and new harbours (NJ56NE 13.00 and NJ56NE 38.00 respectively) at Portsoy are seperate constructions, but are situated close together and were probably used together, the new harbour being intended for expansion rather than replacement.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 5 January 2006.

Activities

Construction (1692)

The Old or West Harbour, thought to date from 1692, has a quay wall of vertically set masonry of unknown date and has adjacent warehouses of considerable antiquity.

Construction (1825 - 1828)

The outer East or New Harbour was built from 1825–28 by the Earl of Seafield to cater for increased herring fishing.

Construction (1882 - 1883)

In 1882–83 the East Harbour was refurbished under the direction of John Willet with a new north pier and the reconstruction and extension of the west pier.

Photographic Survey (June 1963)

Photographic survey of buildings in Shorehead, Portsoy, Banffshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in June 1963.

Publication Account (2007)

Portsoy Harbour

This harbour comprises two small single basins formed by masonry piers. The Old or West Harbour, thought to date from 1692, has a quay wall of vertically set masonry of unknown date and has adjacent warehouses of considerable antiquity. The outer East or New Harbour was built from 1825–28 by the Earl of Seafield to cater for increased herring fishing, and is sited at a more exposed location. Its pier was breached by the sea in 1839 and the harbour became useless.

In 1882–83 the East Harbour was refurbished under the direction of JohnWilletwith a newnorth pier and the reconstruction and extension of the west pier. Because of the exposure of the east and north pier to heavy seas Willet designed them in solid concrete and theywere executed by contractor James Brand of Glasgow. The concrete, consisting of one part

cement to six parts of gravel and sand, was deposited in position by means of a 3 ton steam derrick with a 46 ft jib. The cost of the work was £9000.

The harbour is now used mainly for recreational activities.

R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers

References

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