Friday, February 13, 2015

Herring Fishing. Article IV, 25/09/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood – Part B

Article IV, written by Alexander Gunn, aka A Native of Badbea, was printed in the Northern Ensign on 25 September 1879. Part B
Berriedale, just a short distance from Auchnacraig, showing
 the fishing nets drying, the women gutting the fish & the
 barrels ready to pack them. William Daniell 1820
"Auchencraig had a sort of harbour or port, where a very successful herring fishing was carried on. I remember there being 12 boats engaged fishing there; and though they were the old fashioned kind, they used to make good hauls. If they did not land the number of crans that are common in these days, they had not the outlay. There were four of a crew, and 18 or 20 nets of 30 yards long, 9 or 10 score deep. One man could carry four of these to the spreading ground quite easily. There was, however, a very considerable amount of money put into circulation in these days. The stir with coopers and gutters, and the carrying of salt and barrels from Helmsdale, was something considerable. There were not only local curers, but some of the Leith curers had stations there, and a few of the boats. The white fishing was also carried on at Auchencraig, but as at Badbea, there was no market.

Seals below the Great Stack, Duncansby by Richard Webb

There was another branch of industry engaged in at Auchencraig, which at that time was of considerable importance, viz, a seal fishing. Your readers are not to run away with the idea that there were ships from Auchencraig sent out to Greenland. This was not the case, but nevertheless there was a considerable trade in seal fishing. The caves from Ousedale head to Berriedale head abounded with seals, and the laird, Mr James Horne, claimed them as his property, and rented them to a man in Auchencraig, who paid him a handsome sum yearly for liberty to kill the seals, and dispose of the oil and skins."


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