Archaeologists discover Castle’s Oven
Friday 19th September 2008
Archaeologists discover Castle’s Oven(click here for more images)
The oven was uncovered fully by the Archaeologists in August. It is very rare to find one so big and in such good condition.

Rt Hon The Earl of Caithness P C
The Archaelogists Return for the Summer Season
Wednesday 23rd July 2008
The Archaelogists Return for the Summer Season
The archaeologists have returned to site for the summer season. They are finishing off the NE Tower or lodgings building in the outer bailey and will then move over to the south range starting with the square staircase tower. A second team will come up shortly and they will finish off the east range which is less hard digging and do the recording. No new finds to date but more confirmation of the mess the castle was left in after Cromwell’s occupation.

Rt Hon The Earl of Caithness
Opening of the New Bridge at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe
Wednesday 4th June 2008
Opening of the New Bridge at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe
The new bridge to the Castle was opened by Andrew Sinclair and the Chief on 27th May 2008.

The New Bridge at Castle Sinclair Girngoe
Sunday 16th December 2007
New access in place
The New Bridge at Castle Sinclair Girngoe(click here for more images)
A new bridge is going into place at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe to provide permanent and safe access for the future.

Community Archaeology Finds and Summer Works
Wednesday 26th September 2007
Results of 2007 Summer Dig and New Access
Community Archaeology Finds and Summer Works(click here for more images)
– A previously unrecorded cobbled roadway ‘discovered’ September 2007. It is beside the existing track on the south side of the Goe opposite the Castle

– The new access path looking towards the west barbican August/September 2007

– The new path under construction August/September 2007

– The east face of a possible south barbican wall excavated by volunteers August/September 2007

– A possible south barbican wall from the south west.

– The lodgings building in the north east of the outer bailey. The full archway has been exposed.

Photographs courtesy of Ian Sinclair of Noss.

Community Archaeology at the Castle
Friday 17th August 2007
Update on works
Community Archaeology at the Castle
A full programme of work, organised by the Caithness Archaeological Trust, and involving the community started at the Castle under the supervision of Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd of the University of York on the 9th August and is digging on weekdays until 7th September. In the spring and early summer FAS Ltd excavated most of the north range of the outer bailey exposing rooms hidden under rubble as well as a possible staircase about which nobody knew anything. The archaeologists will be completing those excavations and begin work on the east range of the outer bailey. After 7th September the archaeologists will be replaced by the local builders MM Miller who will install the new bridge in preparation for opening part of the Castle to the public next year. When the bridge is completed FAS will return to work until winter weather prevents further work.

Castle Works Photographs
Wednesday 4th April 2007
Catalogue of photos 2000-2007
Tracking progress at the Castle
Castle Works PhotographsArchway from the West before works(click here for more images)
We have posted a new page contrasting photographs before and after works to stabilise the structure, together with a new gallery of works from 2002-2007. Click on “The Castle” and “Castle Image Library” to access the pages.

World Monuments Fund Visit to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe
Thursday 17th August 2006
Bonnie Burnham, President of the WMF, visited the Castle on 17th August
World Monuments Fund Visit to Castle Sinclair GirnigoeBonnie Burnham with the Earl
A top official from the World Monuments Fund visited Caithness yesterday and was taken to see the historic Castle Sinclair Girnigoe.

Bonnie Burnham, President of the WMF, inspected the preservation works being carried out at the castle by the Clan Sinclair Trust.

on her first visit to Scotland.

Ms Burnham, who described the castle as “very dramatic” and “impressive” added “This is a major historical monument for Scotland and it was wonderful to see it. I think it has a lot of potential for the future.”

The Earl of Caithness, who accompanied Ms Burnham and her party on the trip, said: “Without the help of the World Monuments Fund we would not be where we are right now. It is very important for them to see one of their listings and to hear about the plans for the future.”

The Earl explained that every two years the fund issues its “Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World” – a global call to action on behalf of sites in need of immediate intervention – and in 2002 it listed Castle Sinclair Girnigoe as one of those sites.

“This unique medieval/renaissance castle is the only one in Scotland to be so listed,” he said. “Since then a comprehensive conservation plan has been prepared by Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd of York University (FAS) and a programme of work to conserve the castle agreed with Historic Scotland.

“Phase one of the work, costing about £400,000, is almost complete and has involved the preservation of the iconic chimney stack of the west gatehouse in the outer bailey and adjacent buildings as well as the removal of fallen masonry within the castle to return to the medieval floor level. Specialists have been brought in to undertake some of the work but O’Brien Construction from Thurso has carried out the masonry work and volunteers working through Caithness Archaeological Trust, in conjunction with FAS, have worked on the archaeology. Through the World Monuments Fund, the Robert Wilson Challenge Fund and Samuel H. Kress Foundation have donated money to the project.”

The WMF is the foremost private, non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of endangered architectural and cultural sites around the world. Since 1965, WMF has worked to stem the loss of historic structures at more than 450 sites in over 80 countries throughout the world.

WMF’s work spans a wide range of sites, including the vast temple complexes at Angkor, Cambodia, the historic centre of Mexico City and the extraordinary 18th-century Qianlong Garden complex in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

From its headquarters in New York City – and offices and affiliates in Paris, London, Madrid, and Lisbon – WMF works with local partners and communities to identify and save important heritage through innovative programmes of project planning, fieldwork, advocacy, grant-making, education, and on-site training.

Rt Hon The Earl of Caithness PC
Trust Purchase of Noss Head
Thursday 18th May 2006
Trust Purchase of Noss HeadThe Noss Head Estate
It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that, thanks to the generosity of Sandy Sinclair Pershing and Niven Sinclair, the Trust has now completed the purchase of Noss Head adjacent to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe. The property comprises two dwelling houses, a former stable block, kitchen garden and about thirty five acres of land. The Lighthouse remains the property of the Northern Lighthouse Board. Joan Burton and Ian Sinclair will continue to live in their house and thus life at Noss Head will continue very much as before.

The Study Centre and Niven Sinclair Library are currently housed in Joan and Ian’s house but the library is already full to overflowing with some books not on display. There is a good likelihood of more books to come from another benefactor so new premises are needed. It is also right that Joan and Ian should have the house to themselves. Thus the Trust are looking at various options to build a new interpretation centre for the Castle combined with a Clan/Study Centre and possibly other buildings as soon as finances permit. We need to be able to handle the growing number of visitors to both the Castle and Study Centre and provide them with a better experience and facilities. It will not be the same as being in the house where Joan and Ian have made so many of us welcome but it is the right move to make for the future. Meanwhile the Trust has bought a portable site office which is positioned next to the former stable block and this will serve as an office and conference room for the foreseeable future. Electricity is connected and it has a working coffee machine. The other dwelling house known as The Laird’s Retreat will be let as in the past.

It is great news that land that once was part of the great estates owned by the 1st to 6th Earls and their Norse ancestors is now held in perpetuity for Sinclairs and others to enjoy.

Rt Hon The Earl of Caithness PC

Patron’s Visit
Wednesday 22nd June 2005
Patron’s VisitThe Noss Head Estate
The Earl of Caithness, HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay with Jonathan Clark and Lisa Smith of Field Archaeology Specialists of York University after inspecting last year’s repairs, and Jonathan Clark pointing out future work on the Tower House.

John O’ Groat Journal 50 Years Ago – March 1953
Tuesday 13th April 2004
John O’ Groat Journal 50 Years Ago – March 1953The Noss Head Estate
The John O’Groat Journal noted that the castles had been occupied until 1690, after which the earls of Caithness had their seat at Barrogill Castle, at Mey. The report went on…