The history of Ullapool and the north west Highlands is long and at times violent. Evidence of human settlements are still to be found along the coast and sometimes on the very road side. Stone circular foundations can still be seen at Rhue and aroud the region, many dating back over two thousand years. Brochs (old stone forts) can be found at Dun Logie and Rhiroy on Lochside and further north at Strathkanaird, Coigach and Assynt. A large fort called Dun Canna lies just north of the village. A walk into the bay where it is rewards you with a fort system that has been dated as over 2,500 years old and on a low tide a Viking fish trap is still evident in the bay below, an addition that was built in the 8th Century.
The north influence is still evident in many place names around the area. Ullapool itself is said to be derived from the norse 'Ulla-Bolstadr' meaning 'Ulla's steading'.
Fish and sea trade played an important role in why people chose to live here. This was hugely important in the development of what many regard as 'modern' Ullapool. In 1788 the British Fisheries Society commisioned Thomas Telford to design a village and port for what had become an important herring fisheries. Some of the original buildings still exist across from the harbour: the buildings that house Made in Ullapool, the West Highland College and the Captain’s Cabin are old vault-roofed building that were originally built as curing sheds in 1788.
Many communities throughout the region were devastated by what became known as 'the clearances' - a bad period of time that saw landowners decide sheep were more profitable than people. Ullapool was the leaving place of a ship called the Hector in 1773 that took emigrants to Nova Scotia.
Ullapool's fortunes varied with time but the 1970s and 80s saw a boom time that many still remember. Factory ships from the eastern Bloc used to anchor off the village and process herring then mackeral to export around the world. Hundreds of boats worked the port and many recall the days when you could visit a bar in the village and not hear an english speaker.
For more history about the village and area, please visit Ullapool Museum that has a wealth of local knowledge.
Many of the pivotal discoveries of the Victorian era that contributed to the development of the concept of plate tectonics were made in this area, and there are still regular international geological conferences.