Ship Inn History

The Ship Inn has been a hostelry since 1794.

Dorothy Sayers, a regular guest at the Ship, wrote the novel ‘Five Red Herrings’ whilst on holiday here. Britt Eckland and Edward Woodward also stayed whilst filming the original Wickerman.

In 1794, Gatehouse of Fleet was an emergent harbour town built to be the “Glasgow of the South” with four cotton mills as well as a brewery, soap factory, tannery, brickworks and brass foundry. Up to 150 ships used the town’s harbour, Port Macadam, and the town was even known for a while as the Glasgow of the South. The town’s population was double the current 900 or so residents but heavy industry struggled to compete.

Over time the industries closed and the population shrank, and nowadays Gatehouse of Fleet is a very picturesque, quiet village. The Mill on the Fleet is the only remaining mill, and this historic building is now a visitor centre housing very informative displays about the local area and its history.

For more information about the history of the town, see

Local History

Gatehouse of Fleet dates back to the mid-1700s. Initially just a staging post on the route to Ireland, the town developed after the entrepreneur James Murray of Broughton built his mansion, Cally House, in 1765. However, there is evidence that the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with a small Roman fort, while the sites at Cairnholy and Trusty’s Hill Fort providing fascinating glimpses into the past. The Pictish stone carvings known as the De’il’s Specs (Devil’s Spectacles) at Trusty’s Hill Fort are particularly unusual in this part of Scotland and well worth a look.

For more information about this unusual prehistoric fort, see

Also in the local area are Cardoness Castle, the 15th century, six storey tower house of the McCullochs, and the roofless old kirk at Anwoth. Cardoness Castle is remarkably well preserved, and visitors are able to climb the narrow staircase within the tower.

The views out over the Fleet Bay from the battlements are well worth the climb. Anwoth Kirk is also worth visiting. Dating from the 12th century, the kirk sits in a peaceful spot and has some fascinating tomb stones.

Fans of The Wickerman will recognise the kirk from some of the most iconic scenes in the film, and the schoolhouse from the film also sits close by.

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