Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Wick

#3 of 10 in Things to do in Wick
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is located about 3 miles north of Wick on the east coast of Caithness, Scotland. It is considered to be one of the earliest seats of Clan Sinclair. It comprises the ruins of two castles: the 15th-century Castle Girnigoe; and the early 17th-century Castle Sinclair.
The earlier Castle Girnigoe was built by William Sinclair, the 2nd Earl of Caithness, probably sometime between 1476 and 1496, but certainly before his death at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. There is some evidence to suggest that the castle was built on the foundations of an earlier fortalice.
In 1577, George Sinclair, the 4th Earl of Caithness, imprisoned his own son John, Master of Caithness, in Castle Girnigoe, on suspicion of rebelling against his rule. He was held there for seven years, after which his father fed him a diet of salted beef, with nothing to drink, so that he eventually died insane from thirst.
Expansion occurred in 1606 when Castle Sinclair was built, comprising a gatehouse and other buildings, along with a curtain wall. These were connected to the earlier castle by a drawbridge over a ravine. The same year George Sinclair, the 5th Earl of Caithness, requested the Scottish Parliament to change the name to Castle Sinclair, but because the names Castle Sinclair and Castle Girinigoe were both written down in 1700, both names have been in use since.
Robert Sinclair describes Girinigoe as “an adapted 5 storey L-plan crow-stepped gabled tower house, which sat upon a rocky promontory jutting out into Sinclair Bay. Of interest is the secret chamber in the vaulted ceiling of the kitchen.
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Castle Sinclair Girnigoe Reviews
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  • This was my favourite castle while visiting the north coast of Scotland. It has only recently been preserved and once you visit, you'll soon see why it's so important to keep this castle! The car...  more »
  • Well worth the effort to visit. The castle has only recently just been preserved thanks to the formation of a local trust and kept for future generations to explore. With well documented...  more »
  • You will not end up here by accident, but if you do, you will be impressed. 10 minutes walk and then you can explore the former castle. It must have been an amazing building! There is information on the different stages of the castle around. There is no charge, but we donated something, because it is actually worth an entry fee!
  • Great ruin to have a look around. Half of it is closed off so don't get too excited for seeing around the castle. The adjacent beach is gorgeous too. No signposts towards it so look out the directions beforehand.
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