Caisteal Bharraich is a dramatic and historically significant scheduled monument that sits high above the Kyle of Tongue in Sutherland. The exact date of the rectangular tower’s construction remains uncertain, but there is significant evidence suggesting the earliest possible construction date was around the first half of the 15th century. Later records show that surprisingly few alterations have been made since this time. However, during the winter of 2015 large sections of the monument suffered severe weather damage and GRAS was commissioned to stabilise and consolidate the ancient monument.
The project’s main objective was to improve accessibility, both physically and intellectually, as the building was both difficult to enter and underappreciated as a site of historic significance. The existing structure was made safe and an internal twisting metal stair was introduced to allow visitors to reach a new viewing platform that is largely concealed behind the existing walls. The platform replicates the views of the landscape that the building’s original occupants would have had, enabling visitors to better relate to the monument’s storied past.
The local community was involved throughout the restoration process, with their knowledge and enthusiasm being harnessed during community consultations. Various outreach activities were organised and aspects of the repairs were translated into teaching materials used by the local primary school. In addition, school children prepared letters, photographs, newspaper articles and drawings of local wildlife which were placed in a time capsule and ceremonially embedded into a rebuilt section of the wall. The school and community council participated in the official opening of Caisteal Bharraich in May 2018, which was undertaken by Fiona Hyslop, MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.
The iconic Caisteal Bharraich has now been opened up to a wider range of visitors, providing striking panoramic views from the new platform for all to enjoy. The project represents an example of renewed investment and regeneration in the area, which has secured the future of the monument and enhanced its benefits.
2019 Civic Trust AABC Conservation Award
Ecologists and Landscape Architects
G Brown Stonemason Limited
Caisteal Bharraich Details
Internal stair leading to elevated viewing platform
Caisteal Bharraich Site Plan
Caisteal Bharraich Plan
Caisteal Bharraich Section
We are delighted that this nationally important site has been preserved for generations to come. The improved access to the castle also has wider public benefits. Whereas before, visitors could only access the ground level of the castle, they can now reach its upper levels and enjoy the spectacular views out over the surrounding landscape.
Nicki Hall, Senior Casework Officer, HES
Zoë Alston, Project Lead