(The Port)

©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland


A picturesque village on the Tarbat peninsula in Easter Ross, Portmahomack (known locally as The Port) is situated on the south shore of the Dornoch Firth, 2 miles (3 km) southwest of Tarbat Ness. In the 6th century AD a Pictish monastery was established here by St. Colmac or Colman, who gave his name to the settlement. Archaeological investigations between 1994 and 2007 show this was violently destroyed in around 800 AD, the result of a Viking raid. It is suggested that the attack on Portmahomack is the earliest Viking raid in Britain for which there is firm archaeological evidence. St. Colmac's Church (Tarbat Old Parish Church) was rebuilt soon after and the oldest parts of the current structure date from the 9th century. This is now a museum and visitor centre, known as the Tarbat Discovery Centre.

The present village developed in association with fishing and the export of grain. A small harbour had been built here in 1697 on the orders of Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, but it was a new pier, erected in 1810 as part of harbour improvements recommended by the engineer Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834), which brought prosperity. Now owned by Highland Council, this harbour is still used by a number of small fishing boats as well as leisure craft. A 17th-century storehouse remains extant by the harbour. A 9-hole golf course was laid out in 1908 and the village has hotels and a caravan site.

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