Brough Castle, Caithness
Map Ref:
ND 228740 Landranger Sheet 12

Brough Castle Site From The Air

Robert Wilson Richmond
19th February 2002

Brough is one of those many Caithness Castles that tucks itself away and is not immediately apparent to anyone unless you go looking for it. Even in the small Hamlet of Brough, which bears its name, the locals are not quite sure of its exact location and yet in its day it would have been clearly dominant and visible from afar. It has also been known as the Castle of Braigh.

The Castle of Brough stands on a long narrow promontory to the North of the village of Brough, near Dunnet Head protected from the mainland by a broad, flat bottomed ditch some 40 feet wide and about 12 feet deep. The site it occupies slopes gradually down towards the end of the promontory where the slope has been steeply scarped and a bank and ditch excavated to give protection from the any seaward assault.

Whilst we have been unable to find any documentary evidence on the history of the castle it is noticeable that it is identical in size and arrangement to the Castle of Old Wick, both of which took the form of a large plain keep rising out of the edge of the ditch giving protection to two ranges of buildings behind it and the whole being enclosed with a barmkin wall. The "Old Man" however also had a forward gatehouse and a second ditch which is not the case here.

In the absence of any documented history of the castle so far, it is not possible to give an accurate date for its construction but from the layout features and its likeness to the Castle of Old Wick it is likely to have been built in the early 14th century and may have been an early stronghold of the Cheyne family.

Unfortunately the castle has been heavily robbed of its stone, a sad fate of many of these fine strongholds in Caithness and we are left to speculate what it must have looked like and to whom it belonged. It may be that some of its history will come to light as a result of these Caithness pages and we would be pleased to hear from anyone with any further information.

In the meantime Andrew Spratt's reconstruction, which is based on a foundation layout of the site and the "Old Man", is probably as close as we'll get in the meantime to how it must have looked.


  • Curle - Inventory of Ancient Monuments of Caithness - HMSO 1911