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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: C
  • Date Added: 22/12/1976


  • Local Authority: Highland
  • Planning Authority: Highland
  • Burgh: Inverness

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNH 64463 46718
  • Coordinates264463, 846718


Early 19th-century, painted squared and coursed rubble former lock keepers cottage at Clachnaharry sea lock. 2 storeys, with 2 windows and centre piended porch at the ground floor, and 2 windows with piended dormer heads at the 1st floor. There are lean-to outshots at each gable end. At the west there is a rendered single-storey bothy (NH 64451 46724) with a piended slated roof and attached brick stack. Both buildings sit within a rectangular-plan garden, predominantly extending to the east of cottage and enclosed partially by a coped stone wall.

Predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case frames. End stacks with clay cans with a pitched, slate roof. There is a later lean-to extension to the south.

The interior was seen in 2013. The former lock keeper's cottage was subdivided (date unknown) to provide two separate accommodation areas. The east half of the building is presently in use as the sea lock and canal office by Scottish Canals having been altered from residential use in 2005. To the west the building is in use as a private residence.

Statement of Special Interest

This former lock keeper's cottage is in an outstanding setting, located prominently at the entrance to the canal, on a narrow arm of the sea lock, between the Scheduled Monument of the Caledonian Canal and the open water of the Beauly Firth. The setting of the Lock Keeper's cottage with its garden and lock has not changed greatly since it was built and this adds interest to the building as an indication of its former functional relationship. Together with the small piended bothy this building contributes to the character of the canal and forms a good group representing the early history of canal construction at Clachnaharry.

The footprint of this house is visible on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire 1874, sheet iv), however the building is likely to date from when the sea lock was constructed after 1818. Construction of the peninsula at Clachnaharry was a major feat of engineering and the work was supervised by Matthew Davidson who was the appointed as Superintendent of the Work. The long embankment was constructed in mostly mud foundations in a tidal area to stretch out to the deeper waters of the firth. When the peninsula was complete the lock was excavated from the earthworks to create two embankments to hold the canal. These embankments were and still are in constant maintenance due to the surrounding sea. The canal sea lock was finally opened to traffic in 1818, one year before Davidson died.

The primary role of a lock keeper was to maintain and operate the locks and cottages were constructed adjacent to the bridge for convenience. Cottages were usually single storey with accommodation comprised of a living room and a bedroom, and sometimes with a small outshot to the rear, used as a scullery. In this case the cottage at Clachnaharry was over two floors. The cottages were often set in a small garden to grow vegetables and keep poultry and animals.

The whole of the Caledonian Canal is a Scheduled Monument which identifies it as being of national importance to Scotland. For this section of the Caledonian Canal see Scheduled Monument No 5292.

The Caledonian Canal is one of five canals surviving in Scotland but is unique among them as being the only one entirely funded by public money. The canal was part of a wider infrastructure initiative across the Highlands to facilitate trade and the growth of industry and, most importantly for the Government, to tackle the emigration problem resulting from the Highland Clearances, by providing much-needed employment. The experienced engineer Thomas Telford submitted a report in 1802 to Government commissioners which detailed the route and size of the canal. The canal connects Inverness in the north to Corpach, near Fort William in the west, by linking four lochs: Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. The total length of the canal is 60 miles, but only 22 miles are man-made.

Built to take sea-going ships, including the 32-gun and 44-gun frigates of the Royal Navy, the Caledonian Canal was designed on a much larger scale than other canals in Britain and the locks were the largest ever constructed at that time. This combined with the remoteness of the location and the variable ground conditions, make it a great feat of engineering and construction.

Telford was appointed principal engineer to the commission with William Jessop as consulting engineer. Although work began in 1804 rising costs and the scale of the project resulted in slow progress and the first complete journey was made on 23-24 October 1822. Whilst the Canal was constructed for commercial use it was never a commercial success. Since its opening it was beset by problems and had to be closed for repairs and improvements in the 1840s. However the canal became popular with passenger steamers with tourism increasing following a visit by Queen Victoria on 16 September 1873.

Category changed from B to C and list description updated as part of the Scottish Canals estate review (2013-14).



Ordnance Survey (1874) 25 inches to the mile. 1st Ed. London: Ordnance Survey.

Hume, J. (1977) The Industrial Archaeology of Scotland Volume 2. p.202.

A D Cameron (2005) The Caledonian Canal, Fourth Edition. Edinburgh: Birlinn. pp49-51.

Paxton, R. & Shipway, J. (2007) Civil Engineering Heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands. London. pp160-1.

Miers, M (2008) The Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Rutland Press. p29.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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