to the Caithness Castles Pages. This is a collaborative project
suggested by Robert Richmond who has an interest in Scottish History,
Castles, Caithness and Photography, Andrew Spratt
who is custodian of Dirleton Castle, a historian and painter and Bill
Fernie of Caithness.Org. Information is being added frequently as
new reconstructions become available and articles and introductions
aim of the project is to give an impression of what the castles would
have looked like in their original state. Using archived
material, plans and information plus photographs of the sites Andrew is
recreating the castles using historical material, drawings and pictures
taken by Robert Richmond. Articles have been provided by a
variety of people including reproductions from the Caithness Field Club
Bulletins and links are often made. The articles by D B Miller
written several years ago for the Caithness Field Club Bulletin are an
invaluable resource in this project. Further information is
provided by Robert Richmond from his own research into each
castle. Photographs used are from Bill Fernie Robert Richmond,
Margaret Bates and others. Aerial photographs by Alan Moar in
many of the sections add another perspective and show just how
defensive many of the structures were. From the air it it is also
possible to see more clearly several of the ditches dug as part of the
defences in front or or around many of the castles.
of castles that have actually been in Caithness is still open for debate.
Currently the highest number we have is 48 although many of these have no
visible signs left today. Those that have or for which there is
evidence will be reconstructed here. Let us know if you agree with
the interpretation of the evidence as to how they might have looked.
We hope you enjoy this series on Caithness and its Castles.30 June 2013
Sinclair Girnigoe Castle - Resolving The Names Issue By Malcolm Caithness
Caithness has put together this short item to correct some earlier
misconceptions about the name of the castle and the fact it is often
described as two castles. Three reconstructions show the development
of the castle over 3 centuries. The castle is partly open to the
public and much archaeological work has been done by the Sinclair Trust
in recent years adding to the information about the castle.
24 February 08
New Foot Bridge Improves Access At Girnigoe Castle
new foot bridge is almost completed at Girnigoe Castle near Wick.
This will allow much improved access to the castle once it reopens to the
public. Much work has been done and archaeologists have been working
over the past couple of years in the summer months to uncover more
information about the castle. The history of the castle has been
rewritten based on many new discoveries. This solid new footbridge
will allow a much easier way into the castle than previously and is on the
line where a drawbridge would have been.
6 May 07
Castle Of Mey Tearoom - Just Right For A Snack After Looking Round
recently opened tea room at Castle of Mey is likely to be a hit with
visitors. Castle of Mey is now one of the biggest tourist
attractions in the north of Scotland with many visitors arriving by road
and by sea via boats calling at Scrabster. Now they can get a drink
and something to eat after their visit to the castle and gardens.
Castle Opening Times
Castle Of Mey Open for 2007 Season
is a county that is paradise for anyone interested in Castles. With
probably more castles and and fortified sites or earlier broch sites along
the coast than almost any place in Scotland many interesting days can be
spent checking them out. Without doubt looking into Castles
can be fascinating and Castle Of Mey is now one of the foremost
attractions in the north of Scotland for visitors. the castle is a
small one but due to its royal connection is a very popular place these
days. The site has of course had a castle in place for hundreds of
years and was formerly Barrogil. The castle has walled garden for
anyone interested in seeing the plants that will do well in the windy
weather blowing in from the Pentland Firth
Caithness Castles Book
Michael Gunn hopes to
produce his book on
Castles and Fortified Houses Of Caithness
the book is the work of many years of research into the buildings and the
histories surrounding them. the book will have limited print run of
perhaps 1000 so if you want one get your order n now to Michael Gunn as it
is not certain if there will be another print run. the book will be
heavily illustrated with photographs and is likely to run out early as
there are no recent books on this Caithness topic currently around.
Caithness Castles From
The Air - Latest Addition Freswick Castle 11 December 2004
As you probably know we are always looking for new
perspectives on the Caithness Castles and this new section has been
started following the generous offer by Alan Moar to allow us to use his
photographs of the castles he takes when out flying. The photographs
are just one part of his growing collection on his web site
Scotland Aerial Photos. If
anyone else has aerial photographs of the castles they would like to
contribute please get in touch.
Girnigoe Scaffolding Reaches Epic Proportions
21 September 04
Scaffolding Going Up At Girnigoe Castle As Restoration
Work Gets Under Way
steeplejacks are now on site erecting scaffolding in advance of the next
phase of restoration work on the castle. the trust hope to get a
reasonable amount of work done before the winter weather sets in.
29 August 04
Earl Of Caithness Shows Caithness Field Club
Girnigoe Castle As Excavation Work Gets Going
Sinclair, Earl of Caithness showed members of Caithness Field Club around
Girnigoe Castle and in particular the places where archaeologists have
begun their work on a number of excavations. Almost anywhere they
look they have made important discoveries. Even holes dug to prepare
foundations for scaffolding have uncovered walls and foundations of other
buildings. New towers, a barbican, a seat to wait on before the
castle doors were opened and much more are being uncovered.
Much more is anticipated in the next 12 months. The castle will
remain closed to the public until at least August 2005 when it is hoped to
allow closer views of the work in progress.
22 August 04
Malcolm Sinclair Earl Of Caithness Cut The First
Turf In Major Excavation And Restoration Works
Earl of Caithness, Malcolm Sinclair has cut the first turf a few days ago
in what will be extensive archaeology and restoration works. A team
from York university is now on site to begin the work. the current
phase of the work will cost £400,000 and is being funded through the world
Monuments Fund, the Caithness area of Highland Council, CASE, Historic
Scotland and donors to the clan Sinclair Trust. the castle is likely
to become a major tourist attraction and will be one of the few to have
disabled access built in to the castle when it eventually opens to the
public once again.
9 April 04
WIN A FREE COPY OF THIS LIMITED EDITION
BOOK AND A BEAUTIFUL
ENLARGEMENT PRINT OF THE CASTLE OF YOUR CHOICE.
Highland Heritage Press, publishers of
Caithness Castles, are offering a prize draw with the winner getting a
free signed copy of this limited edition book together with a beautiful
enlargement print of the castle of your choice selected from those
appearing in the book. There are over 200 illustrations so plenty to
draw will be held immediately prior to publication when the order numbers
will be placed in a receptacle and the first one drawn will win a free
copy of the book plus a superb A4 mounted print of the castle of your
choice. Nine further order numbers will be drawn for the runners up who
will receive a print each of the castle of their choice.
29 March 04
NEW BOOK ON CAITHNESS CASTLES
Caithness Castles and other fortified buildings
A history and guide to the strongholds and lairds houses of Caithness
by Michael J. Gunn
This book, the culmination of more than forty
years of research by the author, recounts the histories and family
connections of more than one hundred Caithness strongholds. It documents
the growth and development of all types of fortified buildings in
Caithness commencing with the Iron and Bronze Age hill forts and brochs,
through the Viking and Norse strongholds, to the medieval castles and
towers and the later lairds houses.
provides some valuable insights into Freswick Castle down the centuries.
From the eleventh century right up to the present day. The Castle
has seen everything from its original viking owners though the period of
unrest in Scotland and England and has appeared in many documents.
Most of its secrets are lost but the indications that remain point to its
having been an important place thoughout much of Caithness history.
The present building is still in use by the writer and film maker Murray
Watts ensuring that the castle continues to take its place in the
Lambaborg by Michael J Gunn
In this article Michel Gunn sifts through the references to
Lambaborg including the Orkneyinga Saga and helps to clear up the
confusion surrounding where it was and mistaken places such as Bucholie
and Freswick which were other strongholds in the county at different or
perhaps the same time. "It achieved notoriety in the twelfth century when it
became one of the lairs of the famous Viking pirate Svein Asleifarson
(d.1171). Svein's main stronghold and long hall were on the island of
Gairsay in Orkney but he also had possessions at Duncansby and Freswick in
Caithness and in Sutherland".
Auld Wick by Michael J Gunn
With thanks to Michael Gunn for this detailed article on the Castle of Old
Dunrobin Castle Pictures
OK we know it is not in Caithness but it is a beautiful place and open to
the public. Well worth a visit and the main house is open each year
from 1 April.
23 October 2002
New Keiss Castle
Here is a new section to clarify the fact that there are two Keiss castles
- the old one right on the beach and the later one that was originally
Keiss House but was remodelled a hundred years or so after it was built.
In 1860 David Bryce was employed to give the house the castle look and
many new additions were made to make it look more like a castle.
20 October 2002
East Coast Castles
A walk for
Archaeology Week led by Geoff Leet of Caithness Field Club -
24 July 2002
How The Castle Reconstructions Are Made
These pages are being added in response
to enquiries about the authenticity of aspects of the castles in the final
reconstructions. Andrew Spratt has a wealth of knowledge and has
carried out extensive research on each of the reconstructions. As it
might be interesting and add another dimension to the Castles section
Andrew has agreed to provide some further background information that we
will add here from time to time in order to help answer some of the
questions being posed on aspects of the reconstructions.
must advise that although we are putting lots of information on about
the Caithness Castles it must be remembered that these are mainly ruins
and some of them are in spectacular settings. They can be viewed
from many angles and in safety. But going near to one or two should
only be done with great caution as they often have no barriers or the
sea or cliffs. Certain ones are especially not recommended for
young children to wander freely in as slopes often end on the cliffs
and can be treacherous. Ask for local advice or treat all ground
cautiously near edges. If in doubt keep well back from cliff
edges. Do not take dogs into the castle sites as they may cause
you to lose balance. Even older children should not be allowed to
wander. The pictures are best from slightly back anyway.
Spratt retains copyright over any commercial reproductions of his work
but individuals are free to make copies for their own non-commercial
Bill Fernie, Robert Richmond, Andrew Spratt
Country Houses In Caithness