Castle in Scotland logo

Search for castles in Scotland

Scottish Castles

Bullet Point Aberdeenshire
Bullet Point Angus and Dundee
Bullet Point Argyll and Bute
Bullet Point Ayrshire and Arran
Bullet Point Dumfries and Galloway
Bullet Point Edinburgh and the Lothians
Bullet Point Fife
Bullet Point Glasgow and Clyde Valley
Bullet Point Hebrides and Isles
Bullet Point Highlands
Bullet Point Perthshire
Bullet Point Scottish Borders
Bullet Point Stirlingshire

Local information

Accommodation in the Highlands
Moray Council

Castle of Mey, Scottish Highlands

Location: Thurso, Caithness, KW14 8XH (map and directions)

The Castle of Mey is located on the north coast of Caithness, 15 miles east of Thurso and just six miles west of John O’Groats. Its location has earned it the title of the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland. It is also the only property The Queen Mother personally owned.

Castle of Mey, Scottish Highlands copyright Dave Simpson
Castle of Mey © Dave Simpson

History of Castle of Mey

Built in the 16th century between 1566 and 1572 by George Sinclair, the 4th Earl of Caithness, this three-story Z-plan tower house was then passed to Sinclair’s son William. At this time, the name was changed to Barrogill and the castle became the seat of the Earls of Caithness.

Extended several times in the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle was again extended in 1821 by William Burn, who altered the style from Tudor Gothic.

In 1928 the castle was purchased by Captain Imbert-Terry and used as an officers’ rest home during World War II. After this time, the Castle of Mey sat in disuse until it was purchased by The Queen Mother in 1952, when she was widowed after the death of King George VI earlier that year. The Queen Mother fell in love with what was then known as Barrogill Castle, and dedicated efforts to restore it and the garden. Reinstating the original name of the Castle of Mey, she spent many August and October months at the castle over the next half-century, her last visit being in October of 2001 at 101 years of age, before her death in 2002.

Although The Queen Mother restored and updated the castle, she did not completely refurbish it. Instead, the Castle of Mey has traditionally been kept as it was found in the 1950s, and has been compared to a time capsule of that era. A visit to the Castle of Mey is as much about catching a glimpse into the life of The Queen Mother as it is about the castle itself. Her blue Wellingtons and raincoat hang in the front hall; her homely sitting room is still as it would have been if she were present today. A more humorous side to the castle can be found in the form of tacky trinkets like Nessie statues and other cheap gifts, provided by many of her younger guests as an ‘Thank you’ for their time at the castle with the Queen Mother.

The Castle of Mey is made up of 38 rooms, which include 15 bedrooms, three reception rooms, a library and a billiards room. There is also a trap door in the floor of the dining room which leads directly to a dungeon.

Castle of Mey, Scottish Highlands copyright Jack Spellingbacon
Castle of Mey © Jack Spellingbacon

As an extremely avid gardener, The Queen Mother sought to create gorgeous gardens in her own personal abode similar to the ones she grew up surrounded by at Glamis Castle. There are two gardens on the castle grounds: a two-acre walled garden at the west of the castle and an enclosed one on the east side which feels a bit like a secret garden. The walled garden contains various spaces, such as a flower garden, a shell garden and a rose garden. Raspberries, strawberries and even globe artichokes are also grown successfully in this very northern setting.

There is also an animal centre on the property which was opened in the old granary in 2007 and is now home to a wide range of farm animals where younger visitors especially enjoy learning about cattle, sheep, rabbits, piglets, chicks, ducks and even donkeys.

Though this northernmost castle receives thousands of visitors annually, rumour has it that there is one permanent visitor who never leaves: The Green Lady, the daughter of George, 5th Earl of Caithness. In life she was known as Elizabeth Sinclair, a woman who fell in love with a local ploughman and was imprisoned in the castle attic. In protest and anger, Elizabeth jumped from the window and died, and is said to haunt the castle through to today.

Map and directions

In July of 1996 the castle was opened to the public through the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust. The castle and grounds are open from 10am-5pm daily from 1 May to 30 September with the exception of ten days in July when the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay (Prince Charles and Camilla) stay at the castle.

View Castle of Mey in a larger map

Other castles in Scottish Highlands

Bullet Point Achnacarry Castle
Bullet Point Ackergill Tower
Bullet Point Ardtornish Castle
Bullet Point Ardvreck Castle
Bullet Point Armadale Castle
Bullet Point Auchindoun Castle
Bullet Point Balconie Castle
Bullet Point Ballindalloch Castle
Bullet Point Balnagowan Castle
Bullet Point Balvenie Castle
Bullet Point Brodie Castle
Bullet Point Caisteal Maol
Bullet Point Carbisdale Castle
Bullet Point Cawdor Castle
Bullet Point Dornoch Castle
Bullet Point Duffus Castle
Bullet Point Dunbeath Castle
Bullet Point Dunrobin Castle
Bullet Point Duntulm Castle
Bullet Point Dunvegan Castle
Bullet Point Eilean Donan Castle
Bullet Point Foulis Castle
Bullet Point Gordon Castle
Bullet Point Castle Grant
Bullet Point Inverlochy Castle
Bullet Point Inverness Castle
Bullet Point Kilravock Castle
Bullet Point Kinloch Castle
Bullet Point Knock Castle
Bullet Point Castle Leod
Bullet Point Castle of Mey
Bullet Point Mingary Castle
Bullet Point Moniack Castle
Bullet Point Newmore Castle
Bullet Point Castle of Old Wick
Bullet Point Sinclair and Girnigoe Castle
Bullet Point Skelbo Castle
Bullet Point Skibo Castle
Bullet Point Spynie Castle
Bullet Point Strome Castle
Bullet Point Teaninich Castle
Bullet Point Castle Tioram
Bullet Point Tongue House
Bullet Point Tulloch Castle
Bullet Point Urquhart Castle
Bullet Point Varrich Castle

Aberdeenshire | Angus & Dundee | Argyll & Bute | Ayrshire & Arran | Dumfries & Galloway | Edinburgh & the Lothians | Fife | Glasgow & Clyde Valley | Hebrides & Isles | Highlands | Perthshire | Scottish Borders | Stirlingshire
Home | Contact | Sitemap © 2010