Castle Sinclair Girnigoe was the home of the Sinclair family, Earls of Caithness. The dramatic ruins are gradually falling into the sea, and its perilous position on steep cliffs make it a castle that should be visited with care.
Girnigoe Castle was built around the late 14th to early 15th centuries on a rocky promontory, and was defended on the landward side by great ditches, spanned by drawbridges. The main feature of this castle is a three or four storey tower house, probably completed towards the end of the 16th century although there are the remains of 15th century buildings beneath it. During a period of redevelopment at the castle in the early 17th century, George Sinclair (4th Earl) obtained an Act of Parliament to change the name from Castle Girnigoe to Castle Sinclair. However it appears that the two names became associated with different parts of the castle leading to the impression that there were two castles on the site.
The Campbells of Glenorchy briefly occupied the castle after emerging victorious from a battle with the Sinclairs. In 1680, George Sinclair of Keiss, who later became the 7th Earl, removed the Cambells by force, partially destroying the castle in the process.
In recent years the ownership of the castle has been returned to the Earls of Caithness, and is listed as the official seat of the Earldom. The castle is currently maintained by the Clan Sinclair Trust who are working to preserve it.
- Follow the minor road to the lighthouse at Noss Head, 3 miles north of Wick. It is a ten minute walk from the car park near the lighthouse.
- Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Wick, Caithness, KW1 4QT
- Open to the public during the summer
- For further information visit www.castlesinclairgirnigoe.org
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