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Thurso Castle

Thurso, Caithness

Location Guide

Thurso Castle, or at least its ruins stands at the edge of Thurso Bay, overlooking the River Thurso. Thurso means Thorís River, named by the Vikings who inhabited Thurso in the 900ís. The castle tower stands as a ruined reminder of its former Gothic glory. 

It has good views across to Scrabster and the Scrabster Lighthouse as well as Dunnet Head and the island of Hoy. The ruins are as beautiful as the harsh, stunning and dramatic scenery around it. 

Thurso Castle was originally a 12th century earthwork fortress, founded by the Norse Earls. The ruins you see today are what remains of the home to the old Earls of Caithness, having been built in 1660 by George, Earl of Caithness.

In the late 19th century, John Sinclair absorbed the tower in the construction of a Scottish baronial mansion house and built grand rooms at the back of the building. The tower was 8 floors and 100 feet high but the foundations were only made for taking a tower 40 feet high therefore it was never going to last. By 1914 the tower had already started to lean and it was evacuated. Then a sea mine was washed ashore exploding, and blowing out some of the windows. Although it was thought no structural damage was done. Unfortunately there was a fire, and in 1951 the castle was abandoned and the following year, 1952, parts of the castle had to be demolished and the roof was removed, to leave standing what you see today.

Thurso Castle ruins as viewed from Thurso Harbour area, with it's surrounding curtain wall

The gatehouse for the castle grounds can be viewed from the A836 as you come into Thurso from the direction of John O'Groats.

Location: Thurso Castle, Thurso, Cathness

Grid Reference: ND125689 Ceremonial County: Caithness

Map Link: StreetMap

Aerial photo: Google Aerial

Getting there: Off the A9 as you enter Thurso, take first right after you go over the river into Riverside Road, Past the Tourist Information centre and main car parks on your right and follow the road to it's end at the harbour area.

Access: No access to the Towers, but a good viewing and photographic point can be had from the harbour area.
Other Useful Websites: Thurso   Wikipedia   Thurso on Undiscovered Scotland
Postcode: KW14 8HP Telephone:
Opening Times: None. It can be viewed from the harbour area at any time.

Charges: None

Nearby Locations:
Other Location Pages:
Other Relevant Pages:

Notes: There is a cafe and public toilets in the harbour area.





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By: Tracey Park Section: Castles Key:
Page Ref: thurso_castle Topic:  Castles Last Updated: 06/2012


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