Castle Varrich – more correctly Caisteal Bharraiach in Gaelic – is to benefit from the generosity of a new landowner who has acquired the estate where the castle stands. He is said to enjoy walking and we are fortunate that his walks must have taken him past Castle Varrich overlooking the Kyle of Tongue for he has gifted £200,000 towards its consolidation. This, along with a top-up of £70,000 from Historic Scotland, will secure its future.
As well as being the seat of the Clan Mackay, the castle once belonged to the Bishop of Caithness and served as a useful staging post between his houses at Scrabster and Balnakiel.
Castle Varrich, near Tongue in Sutherland, is readily seen from the road though approaching it can be problematic! It lacks firm dating evidence but is generally held to be a 16th century tower house, perhaps incorporating earlier work. It consists of two storeys and an attic and is unvaulted. This last feature is of interest for it could suggest that this little tower is of very early date indeed like its companions the Old Man of Wick, Caithness and Cubbie Roo’s, Orkney both of which are ascribed to the 12th century.
Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.