Earthquake House

The Earthquake house has been on a hillock at The Ross village, in Comrie since 1874 and is one of the smallest listed buildings in Europe. Comrie lies near the Highland Boundary fault line and regularly experiences varying degrees of tremors. These earths' movements have played a key role in the establishment of measurements and recordings of earthquakes.

As long ago as 1597, James Melville had noted in his diary of an earthquake tremor felt across Perthshire.  It wasn't until 1789 that the first systematic recording of data and severity was recorded at Comrie.  This was done by the Reverends Taylor and Gilfillan who began recording these tremors. Over the next 50 years they recorded as many as 70 major series of shocks, including, on 23rd October 1839, the ,most severe ever recorded.  The shock wave was so intense that it cracked the road surface which later subsided.

In 1838 the Reverend William McKenzie reported on the Comrie tremors that there was probably some connection between the erthquakes and the numerous extinct volcanoes in the area.  Four years later James Drummond, a local shoemaker, declared earthquakes only occured when the wind blew from the east or west.  He and the postmaster Peter Macfarlane eventually produced the original intruments for recoding and measuring earthquake tremors.

One model consisted of simple wooden cylinders and a cross and a tray of sand. This can be seen on display at the house in Comrie.  It is well worth visiting the house, as well as crossing over the picturesque Bridge of Ross.

The future of Earthquake house is unknown. The equipment is now very much out of date; the recording paper is no longer available.  The British Geological Survey are trying to find a solution.  They may end up installing more modern equipment, with some sought visual display for visitotrs to view through the window.

The building itself in is need of repair, from from the damp and mould internally as well as the windows which desparately need replacing.


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