Courthouse Soundscapes: Sounds of the past in Cromarty Courthouse


In 2021, to celebrate 30 years of the Courthouse as a museum, we installed new audio ‘soundscapes’ to enhance understanding of some of the events which took place here.  These cover both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, in the case of the life story of Sir Thomas Urquhart, even earlier. There are five "Hearing History" soundscape sites marked on the museum map. In the corridor outside the cells you will hear everyday sounds of prison life; the other four sounscapes tell specific stories, often using Cromarty’s unique dialect. To help you understand them better, scripts and story summaries are available by clicking on the links below. QR codes are displayed in the museum which also link to these story summaries.


On the groundfloor you will experience


Sir Thomas Dreams 

Sir Thomas Urquhart was Laird of Cromarty in the early 17th century. Imprisoned in England after the Battle of Worcester, he longs to return home Our ten short soundscape scripts will tell you much more about him. Genius? Eccentric? Madman? That is for you to decide. Our Sir Thomas sits and dreams of ‘his little town of Cromarty’ not far from the entrance to the Courthouse downstairs.



The Smiddy Prisoner 

This early Victorian (1841) soundscape features Hugh Sinclair, The Smiddy Prisoner, a miserable Resolis blacksmith (occupying a cell on a charge of theft) in conversation with his jailer.


Upstairs in the Courtroom one of two Trial soundscapes will be played out:



The Mercat Cross Trial  

Our Mercat Cross trial, a sorry tale of vandalism and mean-spiritedness, dates from 1772 when Cromarty Courthouse was brand new and not yet fully fitted out. 


The Broken Fiddle Trial 

The Broken Fiddle trial begins with a violent alehouse brawl among local youths (the gardeners versus the weavers) but all is not as simple as it seems.



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