Drystone dyking training day

Castletown Heritage Society operates the Castlehill Heritage Centre as an educational resource for visitors, local students and school children and the local community. Through a programme of interpretive exhibitions and interactive workshops, we seek to stimulate and sustain interest in and understanding of the history, heritage, vernacular skills, biodiversity and physical environment of Castletown and the parish of Olrig. Our aim is to preserve and maintain the unique heritage of our community within both local Caithness and broader Highland contexts.

To see events and activities from previous years, click here:

Guided village walk


All events took place in Castlehill Heritage Centre unless otherwise stated

Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons

2 to 4pm

Other times by appointment Groups welcome

Winter Exhibition - Castletown 100 Years Ago

From the social scene to the introduction of new technology, the exhibition offers a fascinating insight into village life in Castletown at the turn of the century.

Castlehill Heritage Centre, Harbour Road, Castletown, nr Thurso

For further information contact


7 - 9pm

Wash and Brush Up II - Painting classes with Helen Moore

Beginners were especially welcome. Sessions over the winter season ran from 7-9pm on Monday evenings at a cost of £8 per evening plus materials. Juniors and OAPs £5.



Castlehill Heritage Centre

Summer exhibition - Comings and Goings

Immigration - early settlers, incoming landowners and clergy and professionals, job seekers from the West to the flagstone industry and the fishing, influx of servicemen during WWII, Dounreay workers and scientists, Yanks to the Nav.com.sta at Forss and Murkle.

Emigration - sailors , mariners, explorers, soldiers in British army, officials in British Empire and their employees, 19th century emigrants in search of a better life etc.

Presented in support of Scotland's Year of Homecoming 2009

Six weekly sessions at 7.30pm

16th September

23rd September

30th September

6th October

14th October

21st October

Grand Finale Homecoming Concert on Friday 30th October

'Tidelines' - a local musical heritage project

In conjunction with Caithness Voices and North Highland Connections.

Castletown Heritage Society presented Tidelines, a local musical heritage project to collect and perform tunes and songs reflecting past history and contemporary life in the area.

Workshop with Grey Coast Theatre and Katrina Gordon, music director. participants contributed memories of song, poems, comic or sad tales of the past.

Series of workshops leading to performance as part of village homecoming concert 'Caithness Voices' and performance of Fields of Barley by George Gunn (Set in war-time Castletown), held in Castletown Drill Hall on Friday 30 October 2009

Saturday 14 Nov

10am to 3pm

Entry free

Castlehill Heritage Centre

Pre-Christmas Sale at Castlehill

Locals struggling to come up with that original Christmas gift for a friend or loved one came along in droves to our pre Christmas sale to peruse our unique selection of original Christmas gifts with a local focus.

  • Slate and stone goods from Caithness Stone Industries
  • Cards, prints and paintings from local artist Helen Moore
  • Wood items lovingly crafted by the North Highland Woodturners Association
  • Hand knit hats, scarves, bags, socks and Christmas ornaments from Caithness Stitch 'n' Blether
  • Silk scarves, driftwood art, hand felted items from Castlehill Crafts
  • Books and calendars from Castlehill Heritage Centre
  • Items lovingly crafted by North Highland Woodturners Association
  • Christmas cracker fun and much, much more.

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee as you browse and purchase.

Saturday 26th September

10am - 12 noon

Castlehill Heritage Centre

Weaving Workshop - Come and Try It Day

Run in association with the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers


Two day workshop

Saturday 29th Sunday 30th August

Castlehill Heritage Centre

Drystone Dyking Course

Castletown Heritage Society held another of its very popular drystone dyking courses on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August.

Over the course of the two days, multi-talented master craftsman Dave Goulder from Rosehall, Lairg, coached course delegates in the basic craft skills before leading them on to more advanced techniques.

Dave was born in 1939 of a Derbyshire farming family - a railway footplate man, mountaineer, motorcyclist, classical music enthusiast, Spanish guitar player, Jew's harp virtuoso, songwriter, poet, singer, hedge layer, junk sculptor, naturalist, community arts administrator, drystone walling Master Craftsman/instructor, ceilidh band member, failed mandolin player, and arthritic. For further information on Dave's work visit his superb website.

Such was the popularity of this workshop that a supplementary workshop was held at East Murkle Croft on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd August under tutor George Gunn. It too was fully booked.

Saturday 11th July

10am - 3.30pm

Castlehill Heritage Centre

Weaving Workshop

Unique opportunity to learn basic weaving techniques, including Viking tablet weaving and knot weaving. Workshop tutor Andrew Kieran also demonstrated checks and tartan weaving. Course participants produced a small woven article.

The group size was limited to five. For further information contact

Saturday 20th June

10am - 12.30 and

1.30 to 4pm

Wood turning Open Day

Practical demonstration of the art and skills by members of the North Highland Woodturners Association. Special theme was the use of Caithness grown wood - its special characteristics and rarity. Visitors were able to try their hand at wood turning under expert tuition. Exhibition of works and sale of articles.

Summer programme of activities

Looking for Vikings - Summer programme of field work on the Dunnet links - geo-physical surveys, coring, trial pits, excavations and post excavation analysis. Paul Humphreys was our project leader, with technical support provided by Graham Cavers of AOC Archaeology.

Interested in taking part in future events? CONTACT

Wednesday 22 April


Castlehill Heritage Centre

Castletown Heritage Society

Annual General Meeting

Guest speaker - Mike Ledger, Quarryside, talked about his research and travels in the pursuit of the story of those local men named on the Castletown War Memorial.

3 Day workshop

Fri 6 March

Sat 7 March

Sun 8 March

Unravelling the past with Deirdre Nalson

Three day workshop - participants learned to interpret aspects of local social history through knitting with Deirdre Nelson. Workshop cost was £5 per day.

Since graduating from Glasgow school of art in 1992, Deirdre has pursued a parallel career in creating work for exhibiton and commission and in working as a tutor to various groups. Hand skills are used in her work in a humorous commentary on social and textile history. Her textile work employs a variety of techniques and materials fusing traditional textile skills and contemporary reinterpretation through photography and digital manipulation.

For further information on Deirdre check her website: www.deirdre-nelson.com

Sat 21 February

10am - 4pm

Never felt better? - Joanne Kaar teaches the art of making cosy felt scarves.

In the very popular workshop, participants learned how to prepare the materials, design and then create their own scarf, which was theirs to take away.

Workshop fee was £30, inclusive of materials. £15 deposit required, refundable up to two weeks before event. For futher info- contact

Sunday 1 February

Looking for Vikings - Post Excavation Workshop

Following on from last summer 's successful archaeological training project run in conjunction with AOC archaeology, Castletown Heritage held a second post excavation workshop on Sunday 1st February. The hands-on workshop was led by Dr Andy Heald and involved practical demonstration and instruction in the techniques and processes involved in sifting, sorting, recording and analysing finds from archaeological excavations. For further information - contact

Winter Exhibition

Crofting and Farming Exhibition

Displays focused principally but not exclusively, on the history of agriculture in Olrig parish, from early settlement, pre and post mediaeval, the 18th and 19th century improvements to the 1950s. The age of the horse, steam and tractor, crops, stock, rents, clearances, living conditions and socialising were all featured. Associated trades and activities were not forgotten.