Continuing our journey from John O’Groats to Wick in Scotland 2014 and passing castle after castle, and not being able to stop, was to say the least frustrating. But the didn’t stop me from taking photos from the car, and I’m still amazed by the amount of castles we saw, just from the road. This spendid castle is also known as Ackergill Tower and is now a ‘Five Star Hotel’. We did get an invite for tea, as we had meet the housekeeper at Castle May, but we were leaving the next day and couldn’t go, and I was so dying to get inside, oh well thats life.
No one knows who built the castle but it has had a stormy history over the last 600 years. At one time it was owned by the Keith family in the 15th century who had frequent fights with the Gunns and Sinclairs who came from the same part of the country. The castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of the ‘Beauty of Braemore’ Helen Gunn who was kidnapped on her wedding night by the Keith family, who brought her back to Ackergill Tower and she was kept prisoner by Dugald Keith. But she threw herself from the battlements of the tower rather than submit to her captors. The stone on which she was believed to have fallen, and which bears her outline, can be seen nearby. She’s now seen either as a green lady, or as a lady in a long red ball gown with tall black hair.
Some history for you – The Castle was first mentioned in history in 1538, it has been the catalyst for various feuds over the years. In the 14th or 15th century when Helen Gunn was abducted, the Gunn family and the Keith family started feuding even more, which led to the Battle of Champions. In 1547, the Sinclairs attacked and seized the castle, but Mary of Guise, who was then the Regent of Scotland, returned it to the Keith family. She then installed Laurence Oliphant as keeper of Ackergill in 1549, but the Sinclairs seized the castle once more. The castle changed hands a few more times after that, but was then sold legally to the Sinclairs in 1612. In 1699 the castle was sold to the Dunbars, who added extensions and renovations. In 1986 it was declining fast and luckily it was sold and underwent renovation for 2 years, when it was then opened as a luxury hotel.