Historylinks Tales


Dornoch’s 5 Star Museum, Historylinks, contains many fascinating stories from Dornoch’s past. Here are just a couple.

A seal matrix (used to impress official seals) was discovered over 25 years ago, by local man Chris Murray. This matrix, dated to the 13th or 14th century, has an inscription in Latin of ‘James, Chaplain of Dornoch’ and was in use during the early, bustling years of the Cathedral when it was the ecclesiastical centre for Caithness and Sutherland. We are very lucky to have acquired this matrix; most were destroyed or defaced when their owners died.
On 16th August 1809, 111 people were crammed onto the small ferry boat crossing the Dornoch Firth to Tain market. Concerns were raised that the boat was overcrowded and after travelling only a short distance from the shore water started to come onboard, in the alarm passengers rushed to one side of the boat causing it to sink. Most could not swim and 99 people lost their lives. This was a huge loss to the small local communities. A relief fund was set up for the bereaved families and the amazing sum of £3300 was raised, contributors were from all over the world including the West Indies, Bengal and South Africa.