By using our site you agree to the use of cookies. We use them to increase the quality of this site especially for you, they help us understand your needs (help us collect statistics), help our partners deliver the right content displayed on our website. To learn more about the cookies please click here.


Old Wick Castle

The Castle of Old Wick was probably built by an earl of Caithness in the 1100s, making it one of the oldest castles in Scotland. It was built at a time when the kings of Norway held sway over Caithness and Sutherland, as well as the Northern and Western Isles. ‘The Old Man of Wick’ The castle complex hugging the narrow promontory is dominated by the tall 12th-century tower. This tower gives the castle its more familiar name – ‘the Old Man of Wick’. The tower is almost square on plan and four storeys high. Entry was via a door at first-floor level on the seaward side (although this side has long since collapsed). Apart from the narrow window slits and the ledges for supporting the upper timber floors, the only other feature to survive is a fireplace on the second floor. The similarity with on Orkney, built around 1150, is striking. Behind the tower are remains of other structures, none of them archaeologically excavated as yet.

History of Old Wick Castle

1100's - The Earl of Caithness, the great Earl Harald Maddadson, half-Orcadian, through his mother, and half-Scottish through his father, the Earl of Atholl, builds himself a castle

1159 - Earl Harald is the sole earl of Orkney and Caithness. His castle at Wick being his chief seat on the mainland.

1300's - During the Wards of Independence, the castle is held by Sir Reginald le Cheyne, Lord of Duffus, who supports King Edward I of England. (more in the History section)

Castle today

Finding Old Wick castle is not an easy one as it sits far from the road. However, there are pathways from the main road where you can find safe places to park. The walk is quite a trek, but very much worthwhile, when you arrive at the castle perched spectaculary on a narrow promontory with steep cliffs plunging down to the North Sea far below.

Text by Fred Vincent :