The Brora Saltpans
View the 2011 excavation report here      
Images of the excavation site at Brora
The Brora saltpans community archaeology project is a partnership between the Clyne Heritage Society and the SCAPE Trust. The excavations are staffed almost entirely by volunteers from Brora and the local area. Community participation and support is at the heart of the project’s achievements.

Brora: the industrial capital of Sutherland

A small pocket of Jurassic rocks containing coal on the east coast of Sutherland at Brora gave rise to its place in history as the industrial capital of the Highlands. Coal was mined here for 400 years. The first reference to coal in Brora occurs in a Sutherland Charter of 1529. The last pit closed in 1974. Coal powered a range of local industries including brickworks, textile making, distilleries and of course salt panning. No trace of the coal industry upon which the one-time prosperity of Brora so largely depended, now remains.

Coastal salt pans, in which coal was used to heat seawater for the extraction of salt, was the earliest of the coal related industries to be established in Brora in 1598. Read about the unique circumstances and individuals of the salt industry in Brora in our History pages.

“The ancient glory of Brora...laid bare”

These words from the Inverness Advertiser in 1869 were reporting an event in which “the sand banks along the shore have been considerably encroached upon, and at Port Cheaniraidh (winter port), a mile to the west of the river, the action of the sea against the banks has laid bare a row of buildings which must have been for ages lain imbedded in the sea… Numbers of people flock to visit this long hidden relic of the ancient glory of Brora”. Read more about recent uncovering of long hidden buildings and new discoveries about Brora’s former salt pan sites in our Archaeology pages.


Local participation and events are the foundation and the strength of the Brora Saltpans Project. Find out more - and find yourself! on our Gallery pages.

AIA Award Certificate
We were delighted to receive the Association of Industrial Archaeology main award for best volunteer archaeology project in 2010.
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