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North Highland Archive
The Archive has now moved and is the Caithness Archive
combined with the Nuclear Archive at Wick Airport - 14 December 2017

Wick Library

Caithness Museums

Family History



Caithness History

North Highland Archives Web Page
On Highland Council
North Highland Archive Leaflet - Pdf
Collections Held


Nucleus, The Nuclear and Caithness Archive Airport Industrial Estate Wick Airport Wick Caithness KW1 4QS

Archive Opening Times
Monday-Friday 9-5

The North Highland Archive has a huge range of items which can be consulted in person  at the Nucleus, Wick airport Scotland - free of charge. Staff are always available to help you find what you are looking for. There are some closure periods on sensitive material, but if you require information relating to your own family we can look it up for you.

Our material can be of interest to family historians, professional or amateur local historians, academics, schoolchildren, or anyone interested in any of the topics in which Caithness has made its mark. These include fishing, shipping, lighthouses, architecture, brewing, tourism, manufacturing and crafts such as glassmaking, and of course the famous Highland railways - the most northerly lines in Britain. Not to forget other staple industries of farming and crofting.

If you use the internet on a regular basis, you will probably know that it is now possible to access the Mormon's International Genealogical Index through their own web site. To verify names and dates, however, and to give a broader picture of your family's life, you need to look beyond the index. So much information is available that it will never be possible or economic to put it all on the net. Searching primary sources is absolutely essential for successful research, especially if you want to verify information picked up from the index.

Brenda Lees Leaves North Highland Archive
Brenda Lees archivist at the North Highland Archive had a night out to say farewell with her friends and volunteers from the Archive in Wick.  Brenda is starting a new job in Wales shortly near to the place where she comes from.

 25 June 2002The Highland Council Archive

Trudi Mann Archivist Retires

Sinclair Macdonald Collection
The Sinclair Macdonald collection is the most wide-ranging collection of architect's drawings available for this part of Scotland. Principally concentrating on Caithness, many plans are also available for Sutherland and Orkney, with some going further afield.  The collection has over 7000 pans and business records covering 1889 - 1939

If you see anything in the lists that you are interested in, please take a note of any reference number (eg P48/2 or CE/5/1) as well as the title or description beside them. The items are filed by reference number, so this will save you checking the list a second time when you come up. You will also need this reference number (as well as the title or description) if you are quoting from original material in an essay or publication.

Book Shop


Highland Council Genealogy Service


10 January 06
The catalogues previously listed on this page have been removed as they were out of date and a renumbering has been done.  We hope to have an updated catalogue in the near future.  Meantime contact the archive with enquiries on items you are looking for.

1861 Census Indexes Now Available
The 1861 census indexes, and now have Bower, Canisbay, Dunnet, Halkirk, Latheron and Wick Burgh & Pulteneytown indexes finished and ready for sale as follows:-

Bower 2.50  (25 pages) 90g
Canisbay 3.50  (39 pages) 126g
Dunnet 2.50 (28 pages) 96g
Halkirk 4.00 (43 pages) 136g
Latheron 10.00 (102 pages) 276g
Olrig 2.50
Reay 3.50
Thurso (town and landward) 7.50
Watten 2.00
Wick Burgh & Pulteneytown 9.00 (72 pages) 208g 7.00

Would those who want copies posted to them please add up the weight of copies you require and add postage as per the Royal Mail website  for mailing within the UK
and  for overseas mail (Printed papers)
Then post or e-mail me your order.  I will then advise methods of payment. Indexes will not be despatched until payment is received.

Sinclair Macdonald Collection

Old Parish Registers
Giving the full entry for births, marriages, and (where available) deaths. This entry usually gives the name of the individual village or farmstead, and the name of a witness who was usually another relative. Held for both Caithness and Sutherland

Census records
Giving the ages, occupations, and place of birth of each individual member of the household. Held for Caithness and Sutherland

Other printed or microfilmed records which may be useful for both family and local history are: -

We hold 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey maps (1873 and 1906, in 6" and 25" to 1 mile); also 10ft to 1 mile maps of Wick (1872), coloured maps of Wick in 1898 (also 10ft to 1 mile) showing householders, shops and other properties (produced by our history group in 1998).

Valuation rolls
These give the name of the householder and were produced yearly, we hold rolls from 1878 for Caithness and from 1883 for Wick burgh, to the Council Tax returns for 1994.

Calendars of confirmations (1876-1936) and indexes to the services of heirs of Scotland
Indexed by the name of the heir give details of wills and inheritance. Records of land transfer (indexes and abridgements of sasines running from 1646-1968) are also available in the archive.

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1871-1873)
Gives details of each area or dwelling in Caithness at the time the first Ordnance Survey maps were being produced. For the second Ordnance Survey maps, we also hold Inland Revenue maps giving property boundaries.

A more detailed guide to the use of our printed and microfilmed sources is available for sale in the NHA priced 2.50

Unique archive or rare printed sources include: -

Education records
School admission registers give date of birth and of entry into the school; log books detail the school's daily life, sometimes mentioning children individually; and any special events or the yearly prize-giving would be noted in the local papers which we also hold.

Trade records
We have copies of trades directories, newspaper advertisements for businesses, and several archive collections which contain correspondence, details of employees and diaries of work undertaken.

Council records
These give not only details of council officials or contractors but discuss anything of note occuring at the time - court cases, visits of national dignitaries, applications for trading licences, etc, etc.

Local newspaper articles
(Principally the John O'Groat's Journal and the Northern Ensign). These were even broader in scope than they are now, as they covered national and international news as well as matters relating directly to Caithness. They range from emigrants letters (from Caithnesians in the new world) to accidents, disputes, events, achievements and entertainment at home. They also contain many notices of births, marriages and deaths, which often list surviving family and can help to fill in missing links.

Highland Railways Archives
The archive includes Iain Sutherland's notes and drafts for his book 'The Wick & Lybster Railway' and the original memorandum from 1901.
Plans of Georgemas Junction; copies of shareholders minutes.
Extensive council minutes and local newspapers covering the extension to Wick 1872.
A selection of photographs.
Census records showing staff and station houses
Large-scale OS maps.   
Wick Lybster Railway        Railway Links

Needless to say, council records and newspapers detail the developments in Caithness industry and economic activity as well as the trade records mentioned. The largest private collection relates to shipping and fishing activities (Wick Harbour Trust). A guide to the use of our own archive sources and records relating to Caithness held elsewhere is available for sale in the search room priced 1.50.