Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Location: Wick,Caithness Map

Constructed: 1476- 1496


Description of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is a medieval stronghold situated on a Noss Head, 3 miles north of Wick, Caithness county in the North- east Scotland.  Castle Sinclair Girnigoe was constructed between 1476 and 1496 by William Sinclair (1480- 1513), one of the most powerful lords in the country. However its owner did not enjoy the castle for a very long time. William Sinclair, the 2nd Earl of Caithness died in a battle of Flodden in 1513 where Scottish army with their French allies were defeated by the English. His son John Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Cathness (1513- 29) completed the military fortifications. Castle was remodeled in 1606 with new additions more inland. A curtain wall defended the citadel with a gatehouse and a drawbridge. Around this time castle was renamed into Sinclair castle after the family that lived here yet both names stayed.



The ruins are ten miles south of John o' Groats and a mile east of Ackergill Castle right on the cliffs. They are ultimately two castles built on a huge rock right on Sinclair's Bay.



The first, Castle Girnigoe, dating back to the 15th century, was primarily a tower house. By the 17th century, various additions in the form of "court yards" were built around this tower house, which were later referred to as Sinclair Castle.

Girnigoe Castle was one of the many castles maintained by the ancient 'Lordly line of St Clair' (Sinclair) - actually the 'Sinclairs Earls of Caithness'.

In 1690 George Sinclair of Keiss besieged the two castles and was able to destroy them with heavy cannon and thus win victory over the defenders. In doing so, he destroyed his own inheritance, for the castles belonged to him. However, upon recapture, he relinquished any claim to the destroyed castles, leaving the now unclaimed ruins in the state they are seen today.



In earlier times, access to this group of castles was only possible via a fragile wooden bridge that led to the rock.

These very rugged building fragments, consisting of slate-like, now very weathered rock, are only partially accessible, but hide various secret passages in caves and into the interior of the rock. One of these corridors leads through the rock at sea water level and may have served the lords who lived there at the time as an escape route to the open sea in case of defense.