After Paul Monk, our local curator, was finishing some work on a temporary exhibition about the dig in the Cromarty Courthouse Museum, he came across a possible use for our prolific stone discs of many shapes and sizes (image below).
In Neil Gunn’s novel “The Silver Darlings”, Gunn describes the process of long lining and then goes on to describe shooting the drift net:
“The net was made of hemp and, being old was coarse and stiff, but quite strong. The large buoy, tied to the outer end by a fathom of rope, was first slung overboard; then Ronnie and Torquil let out the net,with its back rope and corks, Tormand slipped a flat stone into each noose as it came along the foot-rope, Ian in the meantime keeping the boat ahead as the wind had all but dropped.”
Given how we now know what an important role fishing played in the early burgh, this could be a useful explanation for the many and varied sizes of roughly faceted stone discs on site. Another suggested use was for clearing off barnacles from the boats.
As well, from a suggestion by local Susan Florence, the possible scythe recovered from a medieval layer may actually be a sandeel hook (see below)...