Ten Things to DO in Dornoch: History and Heritage

The Highlands of Scotland are well known for their rich history and heritage. Discover all about the history of the Dornoch area- and the whole of the Northern Highlands- during your next trip. There are historical sites, castles, museums and tours galore! We have come up with ten of our favourite historical ‘things to do’ in the area, take a look at our list below.

1) The Witch’s Stone

In a garden of a cottage in Littletown, on the way to Dornoch beach, stands a small stone marked with the year 1722. This is known as the Witch’s Stone and marks the spot where the last execution in Scotland for witchcraft took place. The year marked is actually wrong, it was 1727 that Janet Horne met her fate on this spot. She was accused of using witchcraft to turn her daughter into the devil’s pony- The reason for being accused however may have been the fact that Janet’s daughter had a deformed hand.

2) Dornoch Cathedral

The first service was held in 1239 and it continues today as a parish church. Originally Roman Catholic rites were observed but since the Reformation it has been part of the Church of Scotland. The Cathedral has many interesting features, not least the gargoyles on the exterior. The Cathedral is open every day and visitors are welcome. From mid May to mid September volunteers are on hand to welcome visitors and tell them about the Cathedral, Monday to Friday from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm.

3) Historylinks Museum

Historylinks is one of the very few 5 star museums in Scotland. Dedicated to the history of Dornoch parish, current displays include a golf professional’s workshop where Donald Ross honed his skills, Carnegie at home at Skibo, the shameful burning of Scotland’s last condemned witch and the impact of the Picts and the Vikings. Films include Sutherland in 1950 and the Dornoch Light Railway. Visitor translations in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

4) Timespan Museum and Arts Centre: Helmsdale

Timespan provides a unique experience and resource for visitors, artists, researchers and locals. With art exhibitions and a fantastic museum as well as cafe to relax in, it is well worth a visit.

5) Tain Museum

Tain and District Museum is home to an extensive and varied collection of objects, photographs and archives of local, regional and national significance. Their opening hours are: April, May, September and October: Mon-Fri 10am until 5pm. June, July, August: Mon-Sat 10am until 5pm

6) The Pictish Trail

Discover the Pictish trail during your visit to Dornoch. This historic trail originates in Inverness, passing the Black Isle and over the Cromarty Bridge to Easter Ross and through into Sutherland up as far as Golspie. You can also view stones in the Tarbat discovery centre in Portmahomack: www.tarbat-discovery.co.uk

7) Castles

Are you a fan of the TV series Outlander? Why not become a castle hunter and discover Sutherland’s 24 castles! These include the Castle of Mey- the Queen Mother’s house- near Wick, Dunrobin Castle in Golspie, and Ardvreck Castle near Lochinver. Some are spectacular ruins and some are beautifully maintained with visitor facilities but all are worth a visit.

8) Carn Liath

Between Golspie and Brora lies Carn Liath, the Grey Cairn. This broch has a well preserved entrance passage and walls which are still 12ft in some places. It is situated on the North Coast 500 a mile north of Dunrobin Castle.

9) Inverness Museum

Learn about Scottish history and discover how the Highlands are linked with the rest of the world. Experience Highland contemporary art and crafts – or just browse around before enjoying a cup of tea in Cobbs Tea House.

10) The Historylinks Trail

A flat walking tour of Dornoch’s past told through a series of 15 interpretation panels withing the town (and one at Meikle Ferry – 4 miles away).The starting point for the trail is Historylinks Museum and a leaflet, available at the reception desk, includes a map and details of the main locations to be visited.There is a display board at each site but, if you wish to have more detail, illustrated guide books in English, Gaelic, French, German and Italian are available for purchase at the museum shop.

 

Enjoy your visit to Dornoch and do get in touch with us through our facebook page if you have any questions or would like some advice about where to visit or what to do during your stay.