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Castles and Historic Buildings of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland

 Castles of Scotland - Castle Sinclair and Girnigoe

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Noss, near Wick, Caithness, Scotland

Castle Sinclair and Girnigoe is a castle located on a rocky promontory jutting out into Sinclair Bay about 3 miles north of Wick on the east coast of Caithness, Scotland, United Kingdom. It is one of the earliest seats of Clan Sinclair. The castle, an L-plan crow-stepped gabled tower house, is a ruin and is being restored by its owner, The Clan Sinclair Trust.

Castle Sinclair and Girnigoe was originally known as Castle Girnigoe. It was built by William Sinclair, the 2nd Earl of Caithness in the late 15th century. The castle was extended in 1606, with new structures surrounded by a curtain wall, connected to rest of the castle by a drawbridge over a ravine. The name was then changed from Castle Girnigoe to Castle Sinclair. Girnigoe was originally a 5 story L-plan crow-stepped gabled tower house. The tower was joined to various outbuildings within a surrounding wall. The castle has a small secret chamber in the vaulted ceiling of the kitchen, a rock-cut stairway down to the sea. Castle Sinclair and Girnigoe was inhabited by the Sinclair Earls of Caithness until George Sinclair, the 6th Earl of Caithness died without heir. John Campbell of Glen Orchy, who married George Sinclair's widow,took over the castle. George Sinclair of Keiss stormed the castle to reclaim it for the Sinclairs in 1679, and this led to the Battle of Altimarlech in 1680, which was won by the Campbells. In 1690, George Sinclair of Keiss besieged the castle again and destroyed it with heavy cannon fire.

Other Castles in the Area
  Ackergill Tower, Highland
  Castle of Mey, Caithness

Castle of Mey
Castles Sinclair and Girnigoe, Noss, near Wick, Caithness. These castle are trimmed in a lovely pink stone. They are ruined now but there are plans to restore them. If you go for a look, walk out toward the end of the spit and look for the escape tunnel.

Photograph by Dorcas Sinclair. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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