Scheduled Monument

Achastle-shore, fishing stationSM13642

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Industrial: dock, harbour, lock
Local Authority
Highland, Highland
Planning Authority
Latheron, Latheron
ND 23072 33974
323072, 933974


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.

Statement of National Importance

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.



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

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 29/09/2022 06:46