Braal Castle (Brawl Castle)

The new Castle in Halkirk was builtin the late 19th century.

The picture (bottom of the article) is of the new Castle in Halkirk which was built in the late 19th century. The original castle is now in ruins and lies to the right of the new one (as you are looking at it now).

Braal Castle

There are many stories of the old castle in Halkirk. One in particular is of Bishop Adam who ended his days tragically on 11th September 1222. The Bishop was paid his taxes in butter, traditionally a spann for every 20 cows. He increased the taxes to a spann of butter for every 15 cows, then 12, then finally every 10 cows, effectively doubling the tax.

The locals took exception to this, gathered on the hill near the village, seized the Bishop, locked him into a small house and burnt him. King Alexander was very annoyed – well I think it could be classed as very annoyed – when he cut the hands and feet off of 80 people in retaliation.

Braal Castle

The ruin, as well as the modern castle of Braal now belong to the Sinclairs of Ulbster. The old castle at Braal is of Norse origin, though probably not in its present form, and is of striking contrast to other castles in Caithness. Situated among woods on the west bank of the Thurso River at Halkirk, it is without doubt the best preserved of the Norse castles. It was the principal seat of John, 24th Earl of Caithness (1206-1231). Braal Castle is listed property of The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Braal Castle (Brawl Castle) probably dates from the mid 14 century and a rectangular tower at the rear of the existing structure remains from that era. The existing house is a much more recent construction, from the late 19th Century. During the second world war the house was requisitioned by the army and its conversion into 15 flats ( 1 & 2 bedroom flats) was carried out during the 1970’s with amazing views of the river. This layout remains and 14 small flats and 1 large top floor apartment form the current accommodation.

The property sits in attractive woodland around a mile east of the village of Halkirk. Halkirk is an attractive Caithness town which in itself has an historic significance, as Britain’s first “planned” town and having a characteristic “grid iron” layout. Thurso (population approx.8,000) lies some 8 miles north and is the local commercial hub, servicing the nearby Dounreay nuclear reactor and Scrabster providing ferry services to the Orkney Isles.

The castle probably dates from the mid-14th century. In 1375 or 1376, Robert II granted to his son David Stewart, the “Castle of Brathwell” and all the lands thereof. In 1547, the castle was in the possession of George, Earl of Caithness. Some traditions say that a castle stood here in the 13th Century and was occupied by Harold, Earl of Caithness, but the style of the

Braal Castle

The Braal Castle (Brawl Castle) is located on a defensive site, above the River Thurso. Possibly built on the site of an earlier structure, the rectangular tower has three storeys; an unvaulted basement. It comprises a tower house, around 12 by 11 metres (39 by 36 feet), with walls 2.5 to 3m (8-10 ft) thick. The entrance is at first-floor level, leading into a large hall. A stair in the wall led up to an upper floor and a parapet walk, although the upper parts of the castle have not survived. The remains of an entirely ruined hall lie adjacent and both are surrounded by a ditch and there is presumed to have been a barmkin wall.

braalcastle old

Fig: Halkirk, Braal Castle Old

New Braal Castle (Brawl Castle), Halkirk

Fig: New Braal Castle (Brawl Castle), Halkirk


Braal Castle (Brawl Castle)
Braal Castle Road Landward, Halkirk By Thurso
Scotland, UK

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