PLAN YOUR VISIT TO CASTLEHILL HERITAGE CENTRE
In renovated eighteenth century farm buildings on the northern edge of the village of Castletown lies the award-winning Castlehill Heritage Centre, a Four Star Visit Scotland Attraction. Castlehill is the home of the world famous Caithness flagstone industry. It was here in the 1790s that Sheriff Depute James Traill of Rattar first exploited the commercial opportunities arising from the extraction, finishing and export UK-wide and beyond, of the robust and hard wearing Caithness flagstone from his Castlehill Pavement Works and the adjacent purpose built Castlehill Harbour.
Our immersive, interactive and welcoming visitor experience takes you on a journey through the story of our unique village, from its establishment in the early 1800s to house workers involved in Traill's flagstone quarrying and finishing operations, through RAF Castletown's crucial role in the defence of the UK's naval fleet during WWII, to the rise and fall of Norfrost - at one time the largest manufacturer and exporter of chest freezers in Europe.
Our knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers will guide you around and help enrich your understanding of our regularly changed, themed interpretive exhibitions and displays depicting the unique industrial, maritime, military, agricultural and social heritage of Castletown and the Parish of Olrig. At certain times in the year we offer hands-on vernacular skills workshops, such as dry-stone dyking, metal smithing, croft crafts, archaeological field works and post find analysis. These activities are advertised separately. To find out what is happening on a specific day visit our 'What's On' page.
A must-see is the WWII Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that was recovered from a Caithness bog in 1990 by two local men from Halkirk. The engine belonged to a Hurricane plane that was stationed at RAF Castletown in August 1941 and was involved in a mid-air collision during a training flight. The story of the recovery of the engine, the original incident and the subsequent exploits of its Norwegian pilot is truly fascinating.
Families and schoolchildren are especially welcome. On certain days and exhibitions, children's dressing up experiences may be available. We are also assistance dog and (well behaved) pet dog friendly!
In the enclosed, sheltered courtyard is our Heritage Garden. This features a host of interpretive floral displays and artefacts. Seating at picnic tables is available for you to enjoy your packed lunch! Every Sunday afternoon in August we serve heritage themed Cream Teas, featuring home made scones, jam and cakes - not to be missed!
We do not have a cafe, but we do have a small retail section where a range of our own and local heritage themed publications and souvenirs are available to purchase.
For full pre-arrival information see our ACCESS STATEMENT.
The Centre is open to visitors from 2pm to 4pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year (excluding Christmas Day and New Year's Day).
Other times, special interest groups, and large parties (including coach/cruise tours) welcome by prior arrangement - contact details below.
Entry is by DONATION. Cash, credit/debit cards and major phone payment apps accepted.
Castlehill Heritage Centre and the Heritage Garden are both step-free and fully accessible, with dedicated Blue Badge Holder parking adjacent to entrance. Wheelchair and assistance available on request. Our narrowest access point in the building is 860 mm or 33.8 inches. Hearing loop available during evening talks and presentations.
For full access and pre-arrival information see our ACCESS STATEMENT.
We endeavour to be as inclusive as possible. If there are any specific needs within your party, please contact us beforehand so we can try to provide the best possible experience for you.
Tel 01847 821120
(please leave message - phone not continuously manned when Centre is closed)
Castlehill Heritage Centre is located in Castletown, Caithness at the northernmost tip of mainland Scotland, six miles due east of Thurso.
The Centre is signposted from the A836 (North Coast 500 route) at the centre of Castletown village (opposite the village SPAR shop) and also on the approach to the village when travelling west on A836 from Dunnet.
Ample free parking (suitable for motorhomes) available directly opposite the centre.
OS Map Ref: 12/195685
By bus (services X99, 80, 276, 915) - alight at Castletown Drill Hall and follow the signs opposite the village SPAR shop. 750m walk to Centre.
There are currently no EV charging points in the village. The nearest are in Thurso (6 miles) and Gills Ferry terminal (9 miles).
For full pre-arrival information see our