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Crafts In Caithness Historical Articles  

Artists In Caithness

Chip Carving In Caithness
McIvor and Allan

Almost gone or so James Dunster thought when he set out on a quest to Caithness to find out the history of an unusual table he had in his possession.  The search has led to him uncovering not only many fine examples of the fine carving carried out in Caithness and almost lost and forgotten.  You can only imagine his surprise at finding not only many examples in the county but around the world.  Even more to find out that almost on the brink of extinction in Caithness chip-carving is still hanging on as a local craft.  One of the Grandsons of an apprentice involved in the firm of McIvor and Allan Chip-carvers still carries on the craft albeit single-handed.  Terence Calder was found by James Dunster.   A relatively young man he is carrying on this tradition in the county that was once a very good business with several employees for over 60 years from around 1890 to 1955.

Bill Fernie photographed a few of the examples loaned to the Castletown Heritage Society for their exhibition in the summer of 2001 not knowing that James Dunster was even then continuing his work researching the Chip-carvers of Caithness.  A meeting a few days ago (15 December 2001) has led to the agreement of James Dunster to having his work published on the web site.  This is a revised and updated version of a booklet he produced for the exhibition.  As his work progresses there may yet be additions to the material.

Latest Addtions
11 August 2003
Pictures of the cornice and fireplace in the shop and house plus pictures of the building front and rear where the furniture was made.  The shop is now a store of the current owner who showed us round.   the shop remains almost as it was when used by McIvor and Allen with the original wooden ceiling and walls.  Unique features of the building are the chip carved cornice in the shop and the chip carved fireplace surround.

McIvor and Allan chip-carvers of Castletown c.1890 to c.1955 - History


Calder Carvings continue the tradition today in a direct line from the famous firm.