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


Third Thursday of every month from 7pm - 9pm

Castlehill Spinning Group

Returning spinners and new spinners most welcome.

Come along and have a try. Demo wheel available. Come and be inspinnerised!!

To find out more and register interest, click HERE

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 and register interest, click HERE

Every Wed, Sat & Sun afternoon

2pm - 4pm

Winter Exhibition - Getting the message across

Our Winter Exhibition depicts communications in the parish through the ages, from word of mouth and the written word, through dispatch riders, beacons on hills, postal system, newspapers, telephone and fax, to radio, television, and the internet

To find out more and register interest, click HERE

Tue 10 Feb


Iceland - A Caithness Saga

It was an in-house production tonight, when the speaker at the latest in our programmed winter talks was CHS vice chairman Neil Buchan. Neil gave an illustrated talk on his stay in Iceland in May 2014 through the Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism (CHIST) programme promoted by the ARCH Network and funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme of the European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture. The aim of the programme was to demonstrate to participants, Iceland's commitment to sustainable heritage tourism. This topic is very dear to CHS. Neil joined a small group of hand-picked delegates including archaeologists and conservationists. They were given hands on experience in the conservation and reconstruction of traditional turf- built houses, an iconic feature of the Icelandic landscape.

Being an accomplished photographer Neil treated the delighted audience to images of the breath-taking snow covered mountains, the ice-blue lakes and the formidable waterfalls for which the country is famous. The impressive man-made cathedral and public buildings in its capital did not fail to amaze. Particularly interesting for members of Castletown Heritage Society were examples of how Iceland portrays its social past through its heritage centres and museums.

Lastly Neil gave proof of the Caithness - Iceland connection and its continued importance to the Icelanders through the story of queen Aud or Audrunn, who features in the Icelandic sagas. Aud left Caithness with a large retinue by ship in the 9th century. After settling a large area of western Iceland, Aud set up stone crosses which are still visible today in honour of her conversion to Christianity. CHS hopes to interpret the epic story of Aud, incorporating it into a music and art project involving local schools.

Thu 22 Jan


The men who went far, far away

A capacity audience filled Castlehill Heritage Centre to hear Ian Leith talk about the fascinating social history surrounding the Caithness people who left these shores in the late 19th and early 20th century for a life in Patagonia. Why Patagonia? Patagonia is an awful long way from Caithness, yet in the late 19th century a number of Caithness people took on this challenge not knowing what to expect.

By drawing on his extensive research which included a recent trip to Patagonia, Ian delivered a thoroughly enjoyable and informative talk on the lives and experiences of those who originally made the journey and their decendants living there today. This proved to be of particular interest to a number of individuals in the appreciative audience who were related in some way to the original Patagonia pioneers.

The excellent talk was followed by a lively question and answer session, during which Ian revealed that he hoped to capture all the information he had gathered in a new book. To find out more about Ian's research and the Patagonia project, click here.

Tue 17 Mar


Highland Graveyards - Grave Misteaks

Seldom has the very title of an evening talk piqued so much curiosity. For weeks in advance we received several queries - what will be so amusing about Highland Graveyards? Well, almost as soon as the talk started everyone in the audience had a smile on their face as guest speaker Nick Lindsay from Clyne Heritage Society (Brora) revealed some of the 'typographical' errors perpetrated by the monumental masons of yesteryear.

Nick kicked off by talking about the voluntary project the Clyne Heritage Society undertook a number of years ago to clear the grounds of the Clynekirkton Graveyard at Brora in Sutherland. kirkyard, which was disappearing under 'Russian Ivy' and other predatory shrubs. The transformation was truly amazing.

During their work they discovered much about the physical and social history of the kirkyard, including a number of unusual gravestones - and quite a few 'howlers' in the engraving department. This inspired Nick to explore many other graveyards throughout the Highlands and elsewhere in the UK, resulting in a fascinating compendium of historical typos, each with a story to tell. He also revealed some examples from overseas.

Nick fielded a broad range of enthusiastic questions throughout the talk, and was somewhat taken aback when one of the audience pointed out that a photograph of a particularly striking wooden cross memorial he found in one of the local cemetries belonged to her mother's grave! As Nick put it "That's never happened to me before!"

To find out more about the activities of Clyne Heritage Society click here.

Open every Wed, Sat and Sun afternoon

from 2pm to 4pm

Exhibition - Domestic artefacts over time

A fascinating display of artefacts, tools and domestic equipment from a bygone era and how these have evolved over time. Are the modern 'labour saving' gadgets we take for granted an improvement over what used to be used? Or are we just fooled into thinking so at the hand of advertising pressure? Decide for yourself!



Thu 22 Jan 7.30pm

Tue 10 Feb 7.30pm

Tue 17 Mar 7.30pm

Wed 15 Apr 7.30pm

2015 Evening talks programme

Following on from the success of the highly popular series of winter evening talks held earlier this year, a full programme of talks has been arranged as follows:


Thursday 22nd January 2015. The speaker will be Ian Leith and the title of the talk is "The Men Who Went Far Away". It is about Caithness men and women who went to Patagonia in the late 19th, early 20th Centuries.

Tuesday 10th February 2015. The speaker will be Neil Buchan and the title of the talk is "Iceland - a Caithness Saga". It is an illustrated talk about an intrepid Caithness explorer and his experiences of the fascinating cultural and archaeological heritage of Iceland and the Icelandic mission to develop tourism.

Tuesday 17th March 2015. The speaker will be Nick Lindsay of Clyne Heritage Society and the title of the talk is "Highland Graveyards". This talk will not just be a straight talk listing graveyards but will contain some amusing information.

Wednesday 15th April 2015. The speaker will again be Neil Buchan and the title of the talk is " Traditional Icelandic Turf Buildings". This is an illustrated talk about Neil's hands-on experiences at the Fornverkaskolinn Heritage Craft School in northern Iceland and its activities promoting the preservation of traditional Icelandic building skills and methods. PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE

All talks will take place in Castlehill Heritage Centre and will start at 7.30pm prompt.

Wed 29 April


Castletown Heritage Society AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the Castletown Heritage Society will be held in the Castlehill Heritage Centre on Wednesday 29 April at 7.30pm.

Guest speaker for the evening will be Muriel Murray, who will introduce the latest book to be published by Castletown Heritage Society - "Boyhood Memories of Ham Farm" by David Finlayson.

Tea/coffee and biscuits will be served thereafter. All members and friends welcome.

Friday 15 May


Painting With Light

Neil Buchan will talk about how the optics and electronics in modern photographic equipment can be used by photographers to capture light in a way that produces stunning images. The evening will also include the chance for hands on use of a variety of optical instruments.

Thursday 4 June

7.30 pm

A Window on the Bronze Age Landscape of Caithness

Launch event for our exciting new archaeology project which will use LiDAR data to explore a previously undiscovered Bronze Age landscape in Caithness.

The project will feature opportunities for volunteers of all ages to get involved in archaeologycal survey and excavations, craft workshops, living history demonstrations, archaeological skills training and cartography.

Click on poster for further details. To find out more click HERE

Sat 20 June

11am - 3pm

Castlehill Food Fayre

Featuring an amazing selection of high quality and delicious chocolates, baking, cheeses, pork, breads, summer fruits, sweets, biscuits, eggs and other products, all produced by local suppliers.

Raffle, Teas, Coffees and Home Bakes.

To find out more click HERE

Jun - Oct 15

Full Programme of Summer events

Come and join us throughout the summer and autumn of 2015 in an exciting programme of archaeology, arts and crafts events and workshops. Click on the poster for a list of the scheduled events.

To find out more click HERE. To register to take part click HERE.

Mon 22 to Sat 27 June

Summer School Week 1: LiDAR & the Landscapes of Caithness

The first week of the summer school will introduce participants to LiDAR as a survey technology, exploring how it can be used to study archaeological landscapes. Fieldwork will see participants analysing and mapping archaeology using LiDAR data, introducing techniques of archaeological survey and recording, and the skills of field observation using digital data as a guide.

For full details of the Summer School click HERE

Thu 25 June


Evening Talk - The Bronze Age in Caithness

Stratford Halliday will present the archaeological evidence of the Bronze Age in Caithness. Strat started out as a later prehistorian with a particular interest in the Border Counties, but has developed a much wider interest in the Scottish landscape and its monuments, spanning from early prehistory to the present day. He spent over thirty years undertaking archaeological survey at RCAHMS, and is now Research Assistant at Edinburgh University for the Hillforts Atlas project. All welcome!

Mon 13 to Sat 18 July

Summer School Week 2: Mapping the Bronze Age

In the second week of the field school, participants will learn how to create detailed and accurate records of the sites we find in the field, creating detailed survey plans and maps. Training will be given in a range of survey types, from manual taped offset and plane table survey up to hi-tech methods such as total station and GPS survey. AOC will also introduce participants to ground-based laser scanning.

Sun 26 July, 2 Aug, 9 Aug

2pm to 4pm

Cream Teas at Castlehill

On the last Sunday in July, and the first two Sundays in August we will be serving afternoon cream teas at Castlehill.

Locally produced home baking. 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.

Sat 25 July

10am - 4pm

Prehistoric Pottery Workshop

Potter and experimental archaeologist Graham Taylor of Potted History will deliver a workshop during which participants will make their own replica Bronze Age vessels, focusing on the technologies and techniques of prehistoric pottery. This workshop is recommended for adults and children aged 12 and over (accompanied by an adult). This is sure to be a fun and creative day, but it may get messy – old clothes recommended! You may like to bring a packed lunch.

Friday 14 August

8pm till late

Turning to the Dark Side

Dave Jones of the RSPB will kick off the evening with a talk about wildlife that becomes active and thrives after dark. Followed by a guide to the sights visible in the local dark skies by Caithness Astronomy Group. The evening will be rounded off by a short session spotting Perseid meteors and possibly some of the critters that appear as darkness falls.

Sat 15 & Sun 16 Aug

Weekend Bronze Age Foodie Event!

Come along to learn about the foods that would have been foraged and hunted and how they would have been prepared and cooked in Bronze Age Caithness.

Delivered by the School of Ancient Crafts. Click on the poster for further details.

Tue 1 Sept


Evening talk - How do we find archaeology?

Come along to hear about the techniques archaeologists use to detect the traces of past human activity, and how we’ll be using these to look for the Bronze Age in Caithness.

Delivered by the team from AOC Archaeology Group. Click on the poster for further details.

Wed 2 Sept


2020 Vision: The Future of Astronomical Telescopes

This talk by Prof Martin Hendry will look at the enormous scientific potential of the next generation of telescopes, and preview some of the biggest questions that astronomers might be tackling in 2020 & beyond.

To find out more click HERE

Sat 26 & Sun 27 Sept

10am - 12.30pm

Afternoon drop in sessions

1pm - 4pm

Learn how to make woven wattle hurdles

Wattle & Daub Workshops Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th September, 10am-12.30pm

Learn to create woven hurdles, prepare uprights and weavers, and thread weavers to create sturdy panels - and try your hand at some experimental daubing! See poster for more details.

Open to those aged 16 and over. Please register by emailing Charlotte: charlotte.douglas@aocarchaeology.com

Drop-in Sessions 1pm-4pm both days. These informal afternoon sessions are open to all ages, and there is no need to register in advance. Just come along and have a go!

Friday 2 October


The Light of Other Worlds - Exoplanets and the Search for ET

Dr Duncan Forgan of the University of St Andrews will describe how astronomers, physicists, chemists, geologists and biologists are teaming up to search for life on other planets, and to look for signs of intelligent life. Followed by an observing session if the weather permits.

Watch this space for further details. To find out more click HERE

Friday 27 November


International Year of Light Quiz

Come along and join the fun at a Light themed quiz night

Watch this space for further details. To find out more click HERE

Thursday 26 Dec 15

2pm 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.