Notes: The castle is found at the end of an unnamed road off the A836. There are sign-posts but the road ends at the castle. No car parking facilities but on-road parking is possible with care.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
The roofless remains of a sixteenth century, ruined Tower House. The structure is located in the grounds of a working farm and there is no access to the interior.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Brims Castle was a built by Henry Sinclair in the mid-sixteenth century probably to provide some protection from the ruthless domination of the area by the Earl of Caithness. The castle remained in use as a domestic residence until the Twentieth Century but is now a roofless ruin.
HISTORY OF BRIMS CASTLE
Brims Castle was built by Henry Sinclair between 1564 and 1590. During this period the area was dominated by the powerful George Sinclair, Earl of Caithness who did not hesitate in using ruthless practices to enforce his interests. In 1569 he had besieged his neighbour, Lord Oliphant, in Wick Castle and had even incarcerated his own son in Girnigoe (Sinclair) Castle. It seems likely that Henry Sinclair built Brims Castle purely for defence against raiders operating on behalf of the Earl.
The castle itself started as a three storey (plus attic), rectangular structure. Constructed from stone rubble cemented together with clay, its ground floor consisted of vaulted storage, the first floor was the Great Hall with accommodation above. A stair tower was added later reconfiguring the castle into an L-plan layout. The tower was originally surrounded by a substantial curtain wall that would have enclosed all the supporting buildings associated with such a settlement including a brewhouse, bakehouse and stables. It was sited at a convenient landing point on the Caithness shore and it has been mooted the structure was built as a fortified store house for Henry Sinclair's main residence was at Broubster.
In 1660 the castle was sold to John Sinclair of Tannach, a soldier and later a Member of Parliament. It passed to his son, Patrick, but in 1726 he sold it to Alexander Sinclair, Earl of Caithness who had been forced from his home by John Gow, the infamous Orkney pirate. Gow had been second mate and gunner of a merchantman, the Caroline, but seized it and subsequently embarked on acts of piracy off the Portuguese and Spanish coasts. Eventually he returned to the waters around Caithness and Orkney, hopeful of rich pickings from the isolated estates of the Highland gentry. Murkle, then the primary residence of the Earl of Caithness, had been one of Gow's targets and it is likely his procurement of Brims was an interim measure whilst Haimer Castle was being constructed. Certainly on the Earl's death in 1764 the castle was separated from the rest of his estates and passed to the Sinclairs of Stevenson. They added a two storey building adjacent to the Tower and this remained in use until the 1970s. The castle's roof collapsed in the 1980s and the structure is now a ruin although its ground floor vault is still used by local fishermen.