Ham Mill, Dunnet

+ -
Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2024.

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Ham Mill
Other Name(s)
Ham Girnal
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
ND 23910 73555
Location Type
HS Reference No


Early to mid 18th century girnal; mid 19th century conversion to water-powered corn mill, and later alterations. Large 4-storey, 5-bay agricultural building (former girnal) built against north facing slope presenting 3-storey appearance to S elevation. All Caithness flagstone rubble with tooled rubble dressings. N (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: paired fenestration to outer bays; off-centre vehicular opening (20th century alteration) to ground with further doorway to left. Rear (S) elevation: central timber doorway to 2nd floor approached by forestair; segmental headed wide entrance to left. No water wheel, lade or other external machinery. INTERIOR: no internal floors. No internal machinery. Remains of 20th century concrete grain dryer to ground. Some evidence of earlier flagstone floor. Timber joists. Caithness slate roof. Square-plan, mid 19th century kiln addition (roofless) adjoins to SW.

The former girnal and water-powered grain mill at Ham is an important example of its agricultural building type in Caithness. Having undergone a number of interrelated changes of use, the building is notable for its scale and it continues to reflect the historic importance of the grain trade to the economy of the area. Prominently sited within its rugged coastal setting it is also notable for its Caithness flagstone construction. The location of the building appears to correlate with a building depicted on Roy's map of 1747-51, possibly dating the first phase of its construction to the early half of the 18th century. (Historic Scotland)
Building Dates
Early to mid 18th century with later additions

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
20/6/2012, 26/9/2013
Development History
May 2007: Inspection was carried out as part of the Caithness Redundant Buildings Inventory. The structure has been weakened the by loss of internal floors and traffic on the nearby public road.
25 November 2009: Local planners put forward the Church for inclusion on the Register.
December 2009: The building has deteriorated since it was visited in 2007, with an increased risk of roof collapse.
August 2010: Scottish Historic Buildings Trust is working with building owners and potential End User the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to undertake an Options Appraisal for the Girnal at Ham, along with Barrock Church.
August 2011: An Options Appraisal was undertaken to investigate potential new uses for this significant building and the preferred option was to conserve and repair the existing fabric and develop the building as a ‘Cultural Hub for the Performing Arts’ providing flexible practice rooms, recital space, study space for creative users to partake in seminars, workshops and summer schools. Residential accommodation will be provided in a new building adjacent to the ‘girnal’ to complement the existing building. SHBT will be taking this development project forward in 2011/2012 and are currently preparing funding application to raise the capital cost of £4 million.
October 2011: The Girnal has been awarded £430,080 grant aid through Historic Scotland‘s Building Repair Grant scheme towards stabilisation & repair for use as a cultural hub for the performing arts.
20 June 2012: External inspection finds no significant change from the previous information received.
26 September 2013: External inspection finds no significant change from the previous site visit.
23 February 2024: Desk-based assessment suggests the former mill remains disused.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number


Current Availability
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Unverified see FAQ on ascertaining ownership
Type of Ownership

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Ham Girnal and Corn Mill, Caithness a Conservation Statement 2010 Andrew PK Wright
Online Resources
Scottish Historic Buildings Trust: http://shbt.org.uk/projects_hamgirnal.html
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit