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Old Staxigoe Two   Old Staxigoe One  

The name comes from two Norse words - "GJA" or "GOE" meaning an inlet, and "STAKKR" meaning a rock or stack, hence "Staxigoe", the inlet of the stack. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, a few unscrupulous landlords began evicting tenants from land which had been theirs since the times of the clan system. Sheep had arrived in the Highlands, and the "Highland Clearances" began. Men were sent to war out of loyalty to their chief, and those who returned found their homes and crofts burned and their families scattered to the four corners of the earth. Those who were left - women, children, and the old people - had to walk the 100 miles or more from the hills and straths of Sutherland to the bleak and barren coasts to try to find settlements and a means of living. The growth in population of Staxigoe, Wick and many hamlets and villages along the coast resulted in the birth of herring fishing. Inexperienced men went out into the ferocious German Ocean (now the North Sea) in small boats powered only by sail and oar - many were never seen again.

The Pole
The pole was erected in the middle of the nineteenth century as barometer used by the fishermen to determine the weather conditions at sea.  The houses were built of the sturdy Caithness flagstone and their unique red roofs were tiled with the red tilesd brought in on Dutch boats as ballast.  The tiles were off-loaded at Staxigoe and replaced with cargo.  The harbour houses were demolished in the late 1940's and most of the families were rehoused in the new council built houses which now form part of the village.  The Noss head lighthouse was built by Stevenson in 1849 and for 150 years its light has guided shipping safely past the treacherous waters around Noss Head.

The Girnals
Built in the early 19th century the girnals were used as storage warehouses.  Crofters and farmers in the surrounding area brought their grain to Willie Oman's Mill at Papigoe, where it was ground, bagged and then stored in the girnal at Staxigoe harbour to a wait shipment to many parts of the world.  Along the coast, between Staxigoe and Noss Head are the old slate quarries which provided work (very hard work) for some of the villagers.

Men and boys walked to and from the quarry and slate was among the large variety of goods which were transported to many parts of Britain and further afield.

31 March 2005
A Beautiful spring Day At Staxigoe
The weather was breezy and the temperature low.  But the air was certainly bracing and if you kept on the move well worth a walk round Staxigoe.  The daffodils are once again out in the gardens and out along the farm road.  The waves were breaking and crashing into the rocks.  The new house where once one of the old barns stood is beginning to look established.  The last of the three old barns still stands but who knows for how much longer. The famous Pole used by sailors making for Staxigoe looks fresh and someone has kindly added a small barometer.

7 March 04
Sunday Football At Staxigoe - Boys Organise Their Own Mini Five-a-side Competition
Boys from Staxigoe, Wick and Pulteneytown organised their own five-a-side competition for Sunday afternoon and certainly got stuck in with a few goals on the pitch at the site of the old Staxigoe School

30 November 03
Staxigoe  - New House Where Old Barns Used To Be
The new house at Staxigoe has a magnificent view over the harbour out to sea and along the coast.  Speculation still abounds as to whether the third remaining old barn will follow the others to make way for a further housing development.   On the one hand many will regret the passing of such well-known local nineteenth century buildings.  With little of old Staxigoe left to see the old barns were in need of a lot of repair work just o retain them as they were and with no one coming forward to maintain them or suggest a new use the final one may follow the other two into history. 

New Road April 2002

Canadian Kit house


Garden Wall Collapse

The Fishing Industry
The fishing industry flourished and became the livelihood of almost every family along the Caithness coast.  Staxigoe became the first port in Europe to 'salt the herring'. The fish were packed in barrels of salt imported from the Baltic, then shipped to the Baltic countries, England, Ireland and as far as the Americas to help feed the slave population.  Herring, known to the fishermen as "the silver darlings" and the smoked variety - "kippers", was , for many years, the staple diet of the Scottish people.
At one time, Staxigoe was the largest, "herring station" in Europe and the industry created work for the gutters, coopers, basket and sail-makers, carpenters and not least, the fishermen themselves.  In the early days, as many as 50 boats could anchor in Staxigoe harbour.  Gradually, boats got bigger and became mechanised by steam, and a safe haven was needed for the bigger boats, somewhere along the rocky windswept coast.  the government provided money for just such a project, but after a bit of political manoeuvering, Wick was chosen as the port in which the new harbour would be built.

The Watters Well
The main Herring Curing Station in Staxigoe was housed in the harbour basin, and was owned by William Watters.  In 1868 the well was built and presented to the village by William Watters to provide a supply of clean water for the villages.  Many people ran pipes from the well, and with the aid of pumps were able to bring the water into their own homes.  the original well was situated approximately 500 metres from the harbour and the stonework from that well now stands behind the village hall.

Click here for nine pictures of old Staxigoe

Elsay Broch near Staxigoe

staxigoeharbour.jpg (31736 bytes)

Noss Farm April 2002

More Old Staxigoe

Staxigoe School

From Noss Farm to Noss Lighthouse

Staxigoe Today

Old Staxigoe Painting

Old Map of the village area 1871-72

See Also Harbours
Map of Area Now
Staxigoe Village Hall
Nearest School Hillhead Primary

Noss Lighthouse