The Sad Tale of Harald’s Tower, Thurso, Scotland

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On our way out of Thurso in Caithness, Scotland 2014, I spied a little blip on the landscape, it looks similar to an upside down table or a little fairytale castle, but it is Harald’s Tower.  A name to conjure with….


Some history……..The derelict tower guarding the flanks of Clardon Hill, east of Thurso marks the grave of one of the two adversaries who, in 1196, met in a classic encounter of good against evil.

On one side was the wicked Harold Maddadson, known as ‘Harold the Elder’. The son of the infamous Countess of Athole, by way of his extraordinary cruelty and tyranny, he was a perfect scourge to Caithness. Ranged against him was the local Harald Ungi, ‘Harald the Younger’, grandson of Earl Ronald, one of the founders of Kirkwall Cathedral.  To cut a very long story short, Harald the Young was killed in battle and was buried near to where he fell.  The locals made a shrine of the grave and the shrine became a chapel, but eventually this fell into disrepair. It lay derelict until Sir John Sinclair, at the suggestion of a Rev. Alexander, erected a tower over the site. Sadly this too now lies boarded up and forlorn.


8 Replies to “The Sad Tale of Harald’s Tower, Thurso, Scotland”

  1. Poor Harald is still losing! I hope something can be done to preserve the tower, it looks to be a rather unusual structure. At least to me. 🙂

    1. Yes he is, and I too find it a very unusual building and I thought that the walls had become bowed by the lens, but having looked at other photos, it really is that shape 🙂 It would be nice to think that somehow it could be preserved but I have my doubts.

  2. Interesting story, Lynne! Caithness seems to be peppered with these places. They are certainly easy to spot in such a landscape! It’s a shame that this little chapel or shrine is boarded up, because it sounds like it might be worth a visit.

    1. Yes Jo, its such a quanit little building, and it would be interesting to have a look inside, not sure what you would find though 🙂 Oh there’s all sorts of things poking up in the landscape, little towers, old shaped buildings, some too far away to get a good photo, others I have no idea what they are, great fun though 🙂

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