Skelbo Castle

Skelbo Castle, Sutherland

~ History ~

1211 - Hugh Feskin gives Skelbo to Gilbert de Moravia, later Bishop of Caithness.

1240's - Gilberts brother Richard resides at Skelbo at the time of his death in a battle against Norsemen.

1290 - English and Scottish commissioners meet at Skelbo to greet the Maid of Norway as Queen of Scots and whilst 

there are told of her death at Kirkwall.

1308 - Robert the Bruce captures Skelbo.

1440's - Thomas Kynnard obtains Skelbo through marriage to Egidia, heiress of Walter Moray.

1494 - The Earl of Sutherland captures Skelbo and abducts two of John of Moray's children. He is ordered to return the children and pay compensation for his acts.

1529 - The castle is sold to William Sutherland of Duffus. He is killed the following year at Thurso. Seven years on , as an act of revenge, his son sacks and burns the cathedral in Dornoch and repeats this three years later.

1621 - A feud between the Sutherlands and the Gordons of Embo erupts over the boundary dividing their estates. The heir of Embo is wounded in an affray and his kinsmen lay siege to Skelbo.

1651 - Alexander Sutherland is created Lord Duffus.

1715 - The castle is forfeit following support to the Jacobite uprising.

1746 - The castle is occupied by Jacobite forces.

1787 - The decayed castle is disposed of to the Countess of Sutherland.




Off A9


Near IV25 3QF

Skelbo Castle is built on the hilly site of a former ferry across the mouth of Loch Fleet. The fragmented wall surrounding the triangular courtyard is 4 feet thick and of 14th century. There is evidence of a 16th century tower at the eastern corner, possibly a relic of a twin-towered gatehouse. To the north-west corner the ground rises to a mound where fragments of a keep remain.

Access to the castle is quite easy from the road, a short walk across the field uphill towards the ruins. Look out for the seals basking on the shallow sand banks opposite the castle.