The Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society possibly started in the mid to late 20th Century with the first AGM probably held in Dingwall in March 1974. The date of the inaugural meeting has unfortunately been lost in the mists of time, but was most likely founded in 1973. It was first registered as a charity in July 1973 with the aim to promote and encourage interest in, and care for, the history, beauty and character of the Ross and Cromarty communities. This was achieved by preparing articles and schedules of historic records, collecting and collating pictorial and literary records from Ross and Cromarty.
The Heritage Society is named after the Ross and Cromarty local government county created in 1890. The original county name still existed in the year that the Heritage Society was formed. Vist the Ross and Cromarty Local Government page for more information.
During the next few years the society was responsible for publishing a number of articles and books. These included: Gairloch and Guide to Loch Maree by J.H. Dixon in 1974, The Ferindonald Papers by Frank Maclennan in 1976 and Tarbat, Easter Ross: A historical sketch by Alexander Fraser in 1988.
The Wayfarer Project
In the late 1990’s the secretary of the society, Dr Kerr Yule decided on the concept of a “Wayfarer”. Someone with a video camera to travel to each community and interview the locals and film the landscape to produce an illustrated account of the places and people.
Links with the past
This Wayfarers project was inspired by Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness, who in 1790 wrote to over nine hundred ministers throughout Scotland asking them to contribute to a Statistical Inquiry. The replies were published and are now known as the First or Old Statistical Account of Scotland.
After the success of the First Statistical Account, The Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy in Scotland launched the Second or New Statistical Account. This built on the previous work carried out by Sir John Sinclair for the First Statistical Account but included the knowledge of local doctors and schoolmasters. The Second Statistical Account was published between 1834 and 1845.
Both the Old and New Statistical Accounts for Ross and Cromarty are included within the current Ross and Cromarty Heritage website. The Statistical Accounts for the whole of Scotland are also available online at the University of Edinburgh Library.
The Wayfarers website - The move online
With the development of the world wide web in the 1990’s the Heritage Society created an online website to provide a multi-media account from each of the 36 Ross and Cromarty communities. The UHI Millennium Institute, forerunner of the University of the Highlands and Islands, provided server webspace for the archive.
The Next Website
In 2014 https://www.rossandcromartyheritage.org was launched, for the extensive archive of records and images. The Heritage Society is convinced that to produce a heritage record of worth and interest to future generations it is essential for the effort to come from within each community. The Society needs people with the time and knowledge to help add to the existing archive of over 8,000 images and 1,500 pages of text.
Publications continue online
With the new benefits created by the world wide web the work of publishing articles and books started in the 1970’s could be continued. In 2017 the society acquired the book “Records of the Men of Lochbroom who fell in the European War 1914 – 1918”. These records were collected and arranged by Mrs Edith Fraser of Lechmelm, the book was printed for private circulation only and is somewhat unique. The “Men of Lochbroom 1914-1918” is now available on the website.
Clare Church has researched and compiled “Coigach’s Sacrifice in the Great War”, “Coigach’s Sacrifice in the Second World War” and “Lochbroom’s Sacrifice in the Second World War”. Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society are grateful to Clare Church for permission to reproduce her research on the website.
Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society is also indebted to Mr Donald Mackenzie of Aultbea for providing detailed information on the servicemen of Gairloch Parish who served in World War Two.
The contents of the website also include articles local clubs and societies across the Ross and Cromarty area. These range from sports clubs to amateur operatic societies. Each with a story to tell that adds to the diversity of the area. Local schools have also contributed over the years to the web content. These have included the story of the process from raw material to Ardiva harps produced by two pupils at Fodderty Primary School as a set of photographs as well as a year in the life of Strathpeffer Primary School who took photographs during the millennium year of the activities during each month in the school.
The "New" website
The website was created in 2014, but technology moves fast and it now has limited capabilities to make use of new and developing technology. Many people now access the internet using mobiles or tablets, rather than desktop computers, so the website needed an urgent redesign to allow our many visitors around the world to obtain the most benefit from the website.
So, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in January 2021, the “new” website started to take shape. This has included a reorganisation of our pages and menu system to make it easier to find items on the website. We have also been very fortunate to have been given permission to reproduce many books and photographs so wanted to make those easier to use. This has been accomplished by the inclusion of book formats for the books and grouping the photographs into photo albums.
We have also added some new sections. A Library section within each community which will allow our visitors to view books, photographs and videos relating to that community. We’ve also included a War Records section. Previously War Memorials and details of service-people in WWI and WWII were held in the Pan Ross section. While they are still available there, we have also included the War Memorials and service-people in the communities they belonged to.
Over the years many people have contacted us with further details on the website photos. We wanted to make it easier for people to pass on this type of information. Now, every photograph in an album has a comment section that will allow our site visitors to share this information.
The Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society has nearly 50 years of recording the history, environment, folk, places events, work and social activities across the Ross and Cromarty area. To continue with this work in the future we need people from the area to help. Maybe you have memories from the past or old photos of local people or places, then please get in touch. We also need volunteers to work on the website, raise much needed funds or contribute to our social networking pages. As an Editor of the “Ross-shire Journal” said when he first heard of the Project: “Whatever else, taking part in this Project should be fun”.