Castletown, Caithness

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Olrig Parish Church.jpg
Olrig Parish Church, Castletown
Grid reference: ND196678
Location: 58°35’24"N, 3°22’48"W
Population: 798  (2001)
Post town: Thurso
Postcode: KW14
Dialling code: 01847 821
Local Government
Council: Highland Council
Caithness, Sutherland
and Easter Ross

Castletown is a village on the north coast of Caithness. It is within the parish of Olrig, of which it is the main settlement.

The town stands athwart the A836, the road across the northernmost coast of mainland Great Britain, between John o' Groats in the east and Thurso and Tongue in the west. The B876-A99 drives across the interior to join the village with the county town of Wick in the southeast.

Castletown though small has sufficient shops for the community and to cater for visitors there is one small hotel (The Castletown Hotel) and a guest house, and a good range of shops and a school, and even a bank. Most businesses are located on the main street, the A836.

Much of the village is built on the old townland of Stanergill. The Stanergill Burn which was the eastern boundary of the townland flows now through the eastern end of the village and so into Dunnet Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The name Stanergill can be read as meaning Stone Valley, from Old Norse.

The village's main industries are the manufacture of domestic food storage freezers, which employs both local people and latterly many Polish workers.

The town

Castletown has a commodious harbour, built by James Bremner.

The town's main building today is the 'Drill Hall', used for parties, discos and small clubs such as the indoor bowls. Social functions were once wont to be held in the 'Traill Hall', a gift to the Village by the Traill family, owners of the flagstone quarry at Castlehill.

Traill House, a large & imposing country home was the home of the Traill family, and stood in the woods at Castlehill. In later years it was owned by the Crumb-Ewing family, but it became derelict after the Second World War and burned down in the late 50's. The remains of the gatehouse can be seen on the side of the A836 at Castlehill plantation.

Caithness flag

Much of Castletown was built during the 19th century boom years when Caithness became as a major source of flagstone. Much of the stone was processed in Castletown's harbour area known as Castlehill. Many of the streets of London, Sydney, Edinburgh and the financial district of New York City are paved with Caithness flag brought from Castletown.


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