Ancient Monuments

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Brims Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Thurso and Northwest Caithness, Highland

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Latitude: 58.6164 / 58°36'59"N

Longitude: -3.6486 / 3°38'55"W

OS Eastings: 304333

OS Northings: 971008

OS Grid: ND043710

Mapcode National: GBR K5CY.MCQ

Mapcode Global: WH5B8.XPQF

Entry Name: Brims Castle

Scheduled Date: 31 December 1992

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5510

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: gateway (see also Secular: yett)

Location: Thurso

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Thurso and Northwest Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness


The monument consists of the remains of Brims castle, a late sixteenth-century towerhouse, its ancillary buildings, N courtyard, and a late eighteenth-century house adjoining on the W.

Brims was the residence of the Sinclairs of Dunbeath. It is L-shaped on plan: a N projecting square stair-tower having been added to the NE angle at a later date. The main block measures 6.95m E-W by 4.7m N-S externally, the N tower projecting 4.1m. The crow-stepped, rubble-built tower consists of a vaulted basement, first floor hall and attic storey. On the upper storey in the E wall is a corbelled

stair turret with carved ornament above the corbelling.

The main entrance in the E wall on the first floor (now masked by modern additions) leads directly to the newel stair. A trap in the floor of the hall leads to the basement. Georgian type windows have been slapped out on the S wall. A lean-to kitchen has been added to the re-entrant angle. Extending c12m to the N is a small courtyard with high coped walls and a segmental-headed, round-arched gateway with worn sandstone mouldings.

A range of one-storeyed ancillary buildings lie along the N wall of the courtyard. Communicating with the tower

by a short one-storeyed passage is an irregular, three-bayed, E-facing house which originally had crow-stepped gables. The house measures 15.2m N-S by 8.1m E-W. Its entrance is in the E wall near the S end. To the E of the house, at the high tide mark are remnants of protective walling.

Identified on the first edition map to the S

of the castle is an ice-house. The area to be scheduled is irregular, measuring a maximum of 68m N-S by 44m E-W, to include the castle and related structures, and an area around and between which contains evidence of associated activity, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a complex group of buildings that have gradually evolved around a central nucleus, consisting of the original, compact, late sixteenth-century towerhouse. As an example of small-scale defensive architecture, retaining a significant amount of its protective courtyard and an intact moulded gateway, the castle is a rare survival in the context of Caithness.

In addition it preserves distinctive features, such as the stair turret corbelled from the outer wall face rather than the re-entrant angle. Of extra importance is the groups' capacity to provide evidence and its potential to provide further evidence, through excavation, which may contribute more to our understanding of fortified architecture; domestic occupation and activity; material culture and social organisation during the late medieval and early modern period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as ND 07 SW 3.


MacGibbon D and Ross T 1889, Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, Vol. 3, 628-9, Edinburgh.

Miers and Dean 1990, Scotland's Endangered Buildings, 67.

RCAHMS 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness, 114-15, London.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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