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Helmsdale Harbour, Sutherland (Credit: Venture North)
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Helmsdale, Herrings and Empire

By Lucretia Packham

A journey stone homage to the humble herring in Helmsdale, Sutherland.
Image provided by Lucretia Packham

I chose to embroider some herrings on my journey stone as they played a significant role in the development of Helmsdale. Red herring were exported to the Caribbean to feed enslaved people and salted herring was exported all over Europe. The herring industry linked Helmsdale with the British colonies and empire. The spirit of the Highlands extended worldwide from the eighteenth century and still does today.

Many thanks to Lucretia Packham for sharing with us the story behind her journey stone, created as part of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands.


Prior to the beginning of the stitching of each tapestry panel, each stitcher of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands was tasked with telling their interpretation of the 'Spirit of the Highlands and Islands' within a blank outline of a stone. The possibilities were truly endless - is it represented in the land? The people? A historical site? A favourite memory?

In any case, each journey stone represents the connection between each individual stitcher, their story, and their own sense, or 'spirit', of place. Discover more of the stories behind the journey stones of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands here.