Avoch is an attractive coastal village overlooking Avoch Bay and the Moray Firth on the south side of the Black Isle. It is well known to visitors to the Black Isle as it lies astride the A832 from Muir of Ord and the A9 to Fortrose and Rosemarkie.
The name Avoch means mouth of the stream in Old Scottish Gaelic after the Killen Burn which flows into the sea here. Its origins as a fishing village date back to the end of the 1500s: some say it was founded by the survivors of a Spanish Armada vessel wrecked here in 1588.
As late as the 1700s there were still a number of separate and distinct settlements in the area. Seatown occupied the area to the south-west of the mouth of the burn and was home to the fishing community. Kirktown and Milntown lay on higher ground overlooking the shore. The name of the former obviously came from the location of the church: while the latter was home to the processing of locally grown flax and hemp into sailcloth and clothing.
At the beginning of the 1800s a planned expansion was undertaken which joined these settlements together, and linked them to the new harbour, built by Thomas Telford in 1814 at the east end of the new, larger village. The aim was partly to accommodate Highlanders displaced by clearance from inland estates.
The new fishertown that emerged to the east of the Killen Burn between the busy High Street and the shore is full of charm and character, with rows of cottages lined up end-on to the sea.
By the mid 1800s some 150 fishermen and 500 support workers serviced an extremely busy fishing fleet here, and fishing boats continued to operate from Avoch in significant numbers until quite recent times. Today the harbour is mostly given over to pleasure craft.
The high ground to the west of Avoch is known as Lady Hill and is the site of Ormond Castle, built by William the Lion in the years after 1200. A more recent construction was Rosehaugh House on its estate to the north-west of Avoch. This was built in 1798 and enlarged in 1872 by James Fletcher, a native of Avoch who had made his fortune in Liverpool.
After further major enlargement in the years around 1900, Rosehaugh House was held by many to be the largest and finest house in the Highlands. Sadly, by 1959 the estate had been sold and Rosehaugh House was demolished as too expensive to maintain.