Ancient Monuments

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Achastle-shore, fishing station

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.2876 / 58°17'15"N

Longitude: -3.3137 / 3°18'49"W

OS Eastings: 323072

OS Northings: 933974

OS Grid: ND230339

Mapcode National: GBR L65T.QS7

Mapcode Global: WH6F4.2YBH

Entry Name: Achastle-shore, fishing station

Scheduled Date: 15 February 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13642

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: dock, harbour, lock

Location: Latheron/Latheron

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument is a fishing station built for the herring trade in 1810 by Patrick MacDonald. The herring station is located at sea level at the head of a wide natural bay. Achastle-shore is approximately 2km west southwest of the harbour town of Lybster.

The herring station survives as a complex of buildings arranged around two adjacent courtyards, the east buildings survive to the original wall-head in places while the west buildings are more ruinous. Traces of slipways and paving to the seaward side of the complex are evident and accompanied by a retaining wall at the head of the shore. The Burn of Achsinegar runs through the west of the site and has been cut and widened with related retaining walls. A structure measuring 6m by 4m is located at the extreme west of the site on a small rocky outcrop with walls surviving only a few courses in height. All structures, slipways, paving and retaining walls appear to be constructed from local stone, mostly unworked, while the seaward retaining wall of the paved area is constructed from concrete. A track leads from the settlement of Achastle, situated to the northeast, with the land levelled in places and retaining walls lining sections of the track.

The scheduled area is irregular in shape, includes the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduled area extends to the Mean Low Water Springs mark, 1m either side of the track, 1m to the north of the courtyard buildings and 1m to the west of the structure on the extreme west of the site.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to contribute to our understanding of the growth of the herring fishing industry in Caithness and Scotland during the 19th century. The herring fishery, which first developed in Caithness, was to grow into a major export industry for Scotland and by the late 19th century, the Scottish fishing industry was the largest in Europe. Achastle-shore is an extensive and well-preserved example of a fishing station developed for the herring industry during the early growth of the fishery. It is notable for the survival of a range of features, including slipways. Its significance is further enhanced by its location within close proximity of the sites of other fishing stations along the Caithness coast, forming a network of fisheries operating with Lybster harbour at the core. Achastle-shore can enhancing our knowledge of a resource which was often re-used and redeveloped or has been subject to abandonment followed by complete collapse and ruin, and often subject to marine erosion. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand the development and operation of the fishing industry, with emphasis on herring, in Caithness and across Scotland during the 19th century.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Highland Council HER reference MHG 51173.

Original plans held by Scottish Fisheries Museum, accessed remotely via Scran (

Coull, J (1996). The Sea Fisheries of Scotland: A Historical Geography. John Donald Publishers ltd., Edinburgh.

Graham, A and Gordon, J (1987), Old Harbours in Northern and Western Scotland , Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 117, 265-352.

HER/SMR Reference

MHG51173 - Highland Council HER

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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