Scheduled Monument

Spinningdale Cotton Mill, remains ofSM8028

Status: Designated


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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
Supplementary Information Updated
Industrial: mill, factory; textiles
Local Authority
Creich (Highland)
NH 67599 89424
267599, 889424


The monument consists of the remains of a cotton mill and associated structures. The mill is the most visible surviving building. It is a four-storey five bay structure with a projecting bay at its south end.

The mill was built between 1792 and 1794 by the Balnoe Company in cooperation with the George Dempster, the owner of Skibo estate. Dempster and the partners of the Balnoe Company, including David Dale, realised that the ongoing Highland Clearances and the resulting emigration were driven by economic circumstances. The foundation of the village at Spinningdale and, subsequently the mill, was intended to provide employment and prosperity to the inhabitants of this part of Sutherland to help stem the flow of emigration.

As well as being a small, but significant, experiment in social engineering, the mill was a technical pioneer, being steam powered and heated throughout. However it was never a commercial success and, after the business faltered, the mill was gutted by fire in 1806.

The area to be scheduled includes the mill, associated structures and an area of ground which may contain archaeological evidence of the construction and use of the site. The area is defined to the W and S by a line 20m out from the walls of the mill, to the E by the high water mark and to the N by the line of the 20th-century lade. The area measures approximately 80m N-S by 80m at its greatest extents and is marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it is the remains of a rare industrial venture in the Highlands during the height of the Highland Clearances. It represents an enlightened and benevolent, though possibly over-optimistic, response to the problems facing the inhabitants of Sutherland at the time.

The mill building itself, once described as 'a palace mill' is a building of some architectural sophistication. Its reliance purely on steam power makes it a pioneering venture in the history of the Industrial Revolution. It has been ruined since 1806 and now has great appeal as an attractive landmark on the South Sutherland Coast.



RCAHMS records the monument as NH 68 NE 43.

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: 20/04/2024 06:08