Cromarty and the Cromarty Firth
|Ross, Skye and Lochaber|
Cromarty is architecturally important for its Georgian merchant houses that stand within a townscape of Georgian and Victorian fishermen's cottages in the local vernacular style. It is an outstanding example of a 18th/19th century burgh 'the jewel in the crown of Scottish Vernacular Architecture'. The thatched house with crow-stepped gables in Church Street, in which the geologist Hugh Miller was born (in 1801), still stands, and a statue has been erected to his memory. To the east of the burgh is Cromarty House, occupying the site of the old castle of the earls of Ross. It was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais.
Around and about
The port is home to what claims to be the United Kingdom's smallest vehicle ferry, running across the Firth to Nigg, Ross-shire (home to a large facility formerly used for the manufacture and maintenance of oil platforms and an oil terminal connected to the Beatrice oilfield). It runs from June to October, from roughly 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. The vessel is called the Cromarty Rose.
The town is also noted as a base for viewing the local offshore sea life. The waters off Cromarty are home to include one of the most northerly groups of bottlenose dolphins and Cromarty along with Chanonry Point just round the coast is considered one of the best places in Europe to see these animals close to the shore. The University of Aberdeen Department of Zoology Lighthouse Field Station is based in Cromarty.
Cromarty gives its name to one of the British Sea Areas used to provide weather forecasts to shipping.
The small community is also known for being a hub of creative activity including a promoting group, several arts venues and hosts its own Film Festival each December. The Cromarty "Favourite" Film Festival is small but perfectly formed and has won the hearts of many over the years. It has a "Favourite Films" section, showing a film chosen by celebrity guests, an outdoor screening on a Gable End, as well as Gaelic language, Short films, Animation workshop, photographic exhibition and late night pizza and film screenings.
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 Cromarty. Its name in 1264 was Crumbathyn.
The town grew around its port, formerly used by ferries, to export locally-grown hemp fibre, and by trawlers trawling for herrings. The port was a British naval base during the First World War and HMS Natal blew up close by on 30 December 1915 with heavy loss of life.
- Highland Council (2006). "The Cromarty Conservation Area". http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourenvironment/conservation/historicbuildings/listedbuildings/cromartyconservationarea.htm.
- AD Mills (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press. pp. 140.