15th century

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NO 379 549
3m n or Wick
0.5n w of Noss Head


closed for


Historic Scotland
Sinclair-Girnigoe site
Castle Explorer


Girnigoe Castle

This is in all my notes as "Girnigoe/Sinclair Castle' (as it was in the last travelogue), because for a long time, epopel treated these as two separate castles on the same spit of land. In reality, it's just several successive buildings, and one castle.

This time around, the castle was closed for renovation work. Probably ok, since this was the site of the scariest moment on our last trip, when I realized that the tuffets of grass on the top of the stones were actually LARGER than the stones were, and if you ventured near the edge, you could pitch off into the sea, a hundred feet below. Eek!

Workmen were hauling away barrow after barrow of loose rock and fallen debris in preparation for further work on the castle.

the castle stands on a spit of land jutting into the ocean

15th century

The long strip of sedmentary stones that make up the promontory for thsi castle seem to be stacked a bit haphazardly, and the grass and moss the tops them is, as I noted above, a bit misleading. Stay away from the edges!

Girnigoe is a 15th century keep witha main block and two projecting wings, which made a roughly U-shaped building. The courtyard was walled, and the second tower (which has been called Castle Sinclair) was built inside the courtyard. It is this smaller tower that has the gatehouse and controlled the drawbridge over the deep ditch.

The main tower of Girnigoe is five storeys, but it's offset a bit, becuse the stone outcropping is uneven. The wings are actually a storey "higher" than the main tower, with vaulted cellars that sit below those of the wings.

the main tower is being restored and cleaned

The hall on the main floor was a fine, decorated room. The oreil windows are very nice.

Quite a bit of the castle is cimpletely gone, falled into the sea along th elength of the rocky spit it stands on. At one time, the entire outcroppied was walled in and contained buidlings. The castle is entered through a large outer court with a narrow gateway - the remains of a smaller tower (calle Castle Sinclair) are here. From the large (mostly ruinouse) courtyar,d aa narrow gateway allows access to the rest of the castle, laid out in a long, narrow finger of buildings and a facing wall.

the main entrance causeway and gatehouse

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