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Castle Sinclair

Castle Girnigoe (ND 378549) is undoubtedly one of the most impressive fortified structures in northern Scotland. This imposing castle was once the seat of the Sinclairs, Earls of Caithness.


The castle is set on a precipitous and dangerous promontory, one side facing out to sea, the other looking over a narrow sea inlet or goe. Rock-cut ditches defend it further. Within the inner ditch stands the tall tower built in the late 15th century by William, Earl of Caithness, and behind it are lower buildings occupying the available space. In the early 17th century a whole new structure was built in the outer ward. Sometimes known as Castle Sinclair this building was an addition to the earlier castle, not a replacement. The castle was besieged and captured in 1690 in the course of an inheritance dispute and never occupied again. In recent years the ownership has returned to the earls and an ambitious programme of restoration is now taking place.

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