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


Oct - Dec

Open every Wed, Sat and Sun afternoon from 2pm to 4pm

Autumn Exhibition - Needles, shuttles and all

Explore the fascinating world of needles, thread, thimbles, awls, brads, looms, sewing machines, knitting machines, lasts, patterns and all sorts of intriguing equipment and devices. Learn about the trades that relied on them, and the hobbies and pastimes that used them. Do you know your Singers from your Brothers? Almost every home used to have one!

To find out more click HERE

Sat 21, Sun 22, Boxing Day, Sat 28 and Sun 29 December

2pm to 4pm

Special Event - Art Exhibition by Castlehill Artists

Currently on display is a selection of the art work done this year by students at Castlehill Art Group under their tutor Helen Moore. Each student has three pictures on show in a range of oils, acrylics, water colour and pen and ink. Be prepared to be amazed!

The group meets on Monday evenings and new members are welcome. To find out more and register interest, click HERE

First Sunday of every month from 1.30pm to 3.30pm


Third Thursday of every month from 7pm - 9pm

Castlehill Spinning Group

Returning spinners and new spinners most welcome.

Come along and have a try. No wheel needed. Come and be inspinnerised!!

To find out more, click HERE

All Year

Castlehill Archaeology Club

The Castlehill Archaeology Club meets regularly under the guidance of Paul Humphreys.

Interested in taking part? - click HERE

See also CAT website for details.

Monday evenings

7 - 9pm

Castlehill Artists

Our very popular painting workshop with Helen Moore.

Sessions run from 7-9pm on Monday evenings at a cost of £8 per evening plus materials. Juniors and OAPs £5. Beginners are especially welcome.

To find out more, click HERE


19 & 20 January 2013

Paper Making Workshop

As long a go as the third millenium BC, the ancient Egyptians made a thick paper like material from the pith of the papyrus plant. The finished product was good enough to use as a writing surface and was widely used as a rival to parchment (which was made from animal skins). Nowadays we take paper for granted, and it is readily available to purchase in a wide variety of forms and finishes. But the art of paper making from whatever materials are available to hand has not been lost - as our tutor for this exiting, hands-on workshop demonstrated.

Local artist Joanne B Kaar is a papermaker of international repute, and over the two days of the workshop she took us through the process preparing paper from a diverse range of materials. Did you know you could make paper from such things as banana skins, celery, cabbage, orange peel, onion skins, nettles, rush, NZ Flax, thistle down, pine needles, grasses or hosta..... to name but a few? Amazing!

The two day workshop took place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th January 2013. Cost per person was £60 per person. Materials were provided, however participants were encouraged to bring along their own dried materials - whatever they may be!

See News Page for a report and photographs.

Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon 2pm- 4pm

Winter exhibition - Personal memories

Our latest themed exhibition, setting on display for the first time the amazing selection of artefacts donated to Castletown Heritage Society over the past year. From milk churns to period costume and paraffin lamps - an eclectic mix of ephemera and memories of granny's house. A real memory jogger!

Display now includes a 1941 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine!!

Mon 18 February


Monoprinting is the process of creating individual prints using printing plates in combination with water-based or oil-based inks or paint. The 'mono' bit reflects that a monoprint is a single print, thus you have to re-ink your plate and recreate your image each time you want to make a print. No two prints can ever be exactly the same! It is simple, spontaneous and a fun way to introduce yourself to printmaking and to produce your own original prints!

Evening workshop with Jana Emburey.

Tue 16 April


Quiz Night at Castlehill

Traditonal 'pub style' quiz night fun

Prizes and Raffle - Home baking and tea/coffee

Entry fee £10 per team (max 4 per team)

Saturday 13 April

10am - 3pm

Basic Sewing Workshop - back by popular demand!

Come along and learn (or re-familiarise yourself) with this basic traditional skill. Learn how to put in a new zip, take up a hem or sew on a button. Bring your problem with you!

Our experienced seamstress Helen Gunn will be on hand to guide you through the basics and answer your queries.

Workshop fee £10 - bring your own packed lunch - tea/coffee provided.

Wed 24 April


Castletown Heritage Society Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Castletown Heritage Society will be held in the Castlehill Heritage Centre on Wednesday 24 April at 7pm.

Guest speaker Gordon Reid, North Highland Archive Wick.


Tue 30 April


Talk - Regeneration of cottages in the Backies

An illustrated talk by Pauline Megson of the Prince's Regeneration Trust on the renovation of the Castletown flagstone workers' cottages in the Backies.

Pauline will also help you discover what the archtectural features in your own house may tell you about its history.

Sunday 19 May

1pm to 5pm

Genealogy Surgery - First World War

Did your ancestor serve in the army during the First World War? Want to find out more but don't know where to start? Started your research and hit a brick wall? Found information but puzzled by what it means?

Then come along to Castlehill Heritage Centre on 19th May, where an experienced researcher will be on hand during the afternoon to give advice on how and where to research First World War soldiers and how to interpret the results. The session is free and there is no need to book ahead - but please bring anything (medals, photographs, documents, etc) that may give clues about your ancestor's service.

Wed 22 May


Artefacts of Mystery

A talk by Muriel Murray on some of the more unusual artefacts donated to the Society.

Event staged as part of the 10th Caithness & Sutherland Walking Festival.

Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon 2pm- 4pm

Spring exhibition - Education

Our latest themed exhibition explores education through the ages in Castletown and the Parish of Olrig. Memorabilia from Castletown School, teachers and pupils alike! Can you recite your times tables? Or identify the capital cities of the world? Delve into a pre-ball point pen era and try your hand at writing using a pencil and slate, or ink and a scratchy nib pen. Your efforts may be marked out of 10!

Lots for children to see, try and learn, and adults to reminisce.

Also on display - a 1941 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine!!

Saturday 29 June

2pm - 4pm

Wild North Festival - Plants from Pre-History

Illustrated talk by Seona Anderson.

Held as part of the Wild North Festival.

Sunday 30 June


Thursday 4 July

Wild North Festival - Bumblebees

An exhibition on the work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Full details to follow.

Held as part of the Wild North Festival.


Saturday 6 July


North Highland Woodturners talk and demonstration

Talk by Michael Brolly from Philedelphia, USA - woodturning artist and sculptor of lathe turned objects. This will be followed by a wood turning demonstration by Michael O'Donnell - world famous green woodturner from Caithness.


Every Sunday in July

Afternoon Teas at Castlehill

In response to popular demand, on every Sunday in July we served afternoon teas at Castlehill.

Unique, locally themed home baking, such as Flagstone Biscuits, Primula Scotica Cup Cakes, and Dunnet Head Layer Cake. Guaranteed to get the taste buds dancing!

A perfect way to complement a Sunday afternoon stroll round the Flagstone trail or a meander round the Heritage Garden.

31 August

10am to 3pm

Science at Castlehill - The Forces of Nature

Following on from the success of our automaton workshop last year, this workshop provided an exciting and stimulating hands on experience for children to explore the mysterious forces of wind, which powered the water pump in the Castlehill flagstone quarry workings.

This free workshop was aimed at 5-13 year olds and their parents for the younger ones but any age was welcome.

The workshop involved building a model wind turbine, with the aim of lifting a small weight through a fixed distance in as short a time as possible, using hair dryers for the "wind". The early part of the workshop investigated the energy contained in the wind and the viscosity of air in comparison with other media.

It was a great opportunity for some science themed bonding time with Dad/Mum!

The workshop was led by local STEM Embassador Pat Kieran MBE, and John Keeton.

27 September


Drill Hall, Castletown

World War II Concert

Building on the success of the Edwardian Concert held two years ago, last night CHS laid on an evening's entertainment from the 1940s. The event generally followed the format of the 'Welcome Home' concerts organised in the village to raise funds for the war effort and to show appreciation for local servicemen and women returning home on leave in the course of the war.

See the News page dateline 28 September, for a full report and photos from the event.

June - Sept

Open every Wed, Sat and Sun afternoon from 2pm to 4pm

Summer Exhibition - Flagstone Industry

Learn about how the Flagstone Industry shaped the social history of Castletown and the Parish of Olrig. Discover life as a flagstone worker in the 18th and 18th century, when the robust, high quality flagstone from the local quarries was exported as far afield as Argentina and Australia! Also on display are special features on the work of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust, the Patchwork Meadow (a tapestry for our times) and fossils!

To find out more click HERE

Mon 7 - Sat 12 October

Hands-on archaeology week

Caithness Archaeological Trust and Castletown Heritage Society are offering a chance for the public to come to Castlehill Heritage Centre during the week beginning Monday October 7th 2013 to get experience of archaeological finds analysis - including wet-seiving, sorting, dry-seiving, analysing and recording soil samples from recent excavations in Caithness.

Training and tuition will be given by a qualified archaeologist. The first day will be an induction day, suitable for first-timers.

Saturday 19 Oct

Drystone Dyking Workshop

Returning by popular demand - a drystone dyking course at Castlehill, under the guidance of local master craftsman, George Gunn.

See event report on the news page

Sat 26 October

10am to 7pm

Spinners go Global

Earlier this year Castlehill Heritage Centre was a buzz of activity when the Castlehill Spinning Group took part in a 'Spinning Challenge' with another spinning group based in Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

Well, such was the success of the event that the Spinning Group have arranged a global link-up spanning all seven continents! This unique event will take place on Saturday 26 October at Castlehill Heritage Centre.

The event is very much open to visitors, so if you want to take part in or witness a unique, groundbreaking event come along any time between 10am and 7pm, where, subject to the technology performing to order Castlehill will be in live contact with spinning groups across the globe.

16 November

Pre-Christmas Craft Sale at Castlehill

Struggling to come up with that original Christmas gift for a friend or loved one? Then why not come along to our pre Christmas sale to peruse our unique selection of original Christmas gifts, all locally produced.


  • Wood items lovingly crafted by the North Highland Woodturners Association
  • Hand knit hats, scarves, bags, socks and Christmas ornaments
  • Silk scarves, driftwood art, hand felted items from Castlehill Crafts
  • Books and calendars from Castletown Heritage Society
  • Locally produced pens, soaps, jewellery and much much more!

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

Thursday 26 December

1pm to 4pm

Boxing Day Mulled Wine & Mince Pies

Join us at Castlehill Heritage Centre for mulled wine, mince-meat pies and a good going chinwag on our traditional festive Boxing Day opening.

Also on display will be a special selection of the art work done this year by students at Castlehill Art Group under their tutor Helen Moore. Each student has three pictures on show in a range of oils, acrylics, water colour and pen and ink.

See News page for a full report and photos!