Scottish Gaelic: Dòrnach[1]
Scots: Dornach[2]
 Dornoch shown within the Sutherland area
Population 1,206 [3] (2001 census)
OS grid referenceNH798896
    Edinburgh  195 miles (314 km) 
    London  600 miles (970 km) 
Council areaHighland
Lieutenancy areaSutherland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town DORNOCH
Postcode district IV25
Dialling code 01862
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK ParliamentCaithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Scottish ParliamentCaithness, Sutherland and Ross
Highlands and Islands
List of places

Coordinates: 57°53′N 4°02′W / 57.88°N 4.03°W / 57.88; -4.03

Dornoch (/ˈdɔːrnɒx/;  Scottish Gaelic: Dòrnach pronounced [ˈt̪ɔːrˠn̪ˠəx];  Scots: Dornach) is a town and seaside resort, and former Royal burgh in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, near to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east. The town is within the Highland local government council area, and within the county of Sutherland.

The town is near the A9 road, to which it is linked by the A949 and the B9168.

The town also has a grass air strip suitable for small aircraft and helicopters.

The name 'Dornoch' is derived from the Gaelic for 'pebbly place', suggesting that the area contained pebbles the size of a fist (dorn) which could therefore be used as weapons.[4] Dornoch has the thirteenth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the Old Town Jail, and the previous Bishop's Palace which is now the well-known hotel, Dornoch Castle and a notable golf course, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, named the 5th best golf course outside the United States in 2005 by Golf Digest magazine. It is also notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. Her name was Janet Horne; she was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch's Stone, commemorating her death, inscribed with the year 1722. Legendary golf course designer Donald Ross began his career as a greenkeeper on the Royal Dornoch links. The golf course is next to the award winning blue flag beach.

Dornoch used to be connected to the main railway network at The Mound via a light railway. The railway was opened on 2 June 1902. Stations on the line were Dornoch, Embo, Skelbo, Cambusavie Halt and The Mound Junction. The stations were shut on 13 June 1960.

On 21 December 2000 the pop star Madonna had her son Rocco christened in Dornoch Cathedral, the day before her wedding to Guy Ritchie in nearby Skibo Castle.

On 13 January 2005 Dornoch was granted Fairtrade Town status.[5]


Dornoch was a parliamentary burgh, combined with Dingwall, Kirkwall, Tain and Wick in the Northern Burghs constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1918. Cromarty was added to the list in 1832.

The constituency was a district of burghs known also as Tain Burghs until 1832, and then as Wick Burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament. In 1918 the constituency was abolished and the Dornoch component was merged into the then new county constituency of Caithness and Sutherland.

At the 6 May 2010 UK Parliamentary Election Dornoch was part of and continues to be part of the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Constituency.

In the Scottish Parliament from 2011 Dornoch is part of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross a constituency of the Scottish Parliament. It elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post method of election. It is also one of eight constituencies in the Highlands and Islands Scottish Parliament region, which elects seven additional members, in addition to eight constituency MSPs, to produce a form of proportional representation for the region as a whole.

There is also elected local government councillors and as of Nov 2011 Elected Community Councillors.

Rosamunde Pilcher's last novel Winter Solstice is largely set in and around Dornoch, fictionalized under the name of Creagan.[6][7]


  1. Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba ~ Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland
  2. Scots Language Centre: Scottish Place Names in Scots
  3. "Comparative Population Profile: Dornoch Locality". Scotland's Census Results Online. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  4. Field, John (1984). Discovering Place Names. Shire Publications. ISBN 978-0852637029.
  5. "Fairtrade Towns by Date". Fairtrade Foundation. 2010-11-05. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  6. "A Tour for Devotees of the Rosamunde Pilcher Novel visiting Kingsferry and Corrydale in the footsteps of Oscar and Elfrida". Inverness Tours. 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  7. "Harry Potter, Rosamunde Pilcher, Diana Gabaldon ...". 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
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