Sunday, 6 November 2011

Caithness and Castle Grinigoe

Caithness has many old castles dotted along its coastline but my favourite one must be Castle Grinigoe just to the north of Wick. The ruined castle built from Caithness slabs is like many others in the area but its the location that makes this my firm favourite. It stands on an outcrop of the sea cliffs beside a very unusual shaped sea stack.

I tried to visit it both at sunrise and at sunset to try and photograph it in dramatic lighting conditions but they didnt materialise. However, I found that by converting one of my day time shots to Black and White captured the mood that I was after.

To save me some typing .. I "stole" some of its history from this web site

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.

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