Kippering House, Wick, Highland

Ink on polyester film, 1983
Survey by RCAHMS

The ‘kippering’ or smoking of herring has all but ceased in Caithness. The tall commercial kipper-kilns of stone and timber with their steeply-pitched roofs and internal partitions were once a common sight, but now very few survive.  One example that does is the kiln in Bank Row, Wick with its cooperage, kippering house and curing yard.

The herring was prepared by splitting, washing and pickling, and was then hung on frames or ‘tenter-sticks’ and smoked in the kiln above oak chips and sawdust laid on the brick floor. The ‘tenter-sticks’ loaded with fish were hung from horizontal rails in the kiln void. The kiln door and roof ventilator acted as draught regulators. To load and unload the kiln, the ‘smokers’ had to climb up inside the kiln void, using the wooden framing as a ladder.