The browser you are using is out of date and is no longer supported. To view and use this site correctly, please update your browser to the latest version.

We're changing

We have created a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland. While we work on shaping our future we can reassure you that all services and products will continue as normal. Please follow our progress and find out more about our new organisation.

Extreme Archaeology As Experts Abseil On Sea Cliff At Castle Of Old Wick

22 September 2009

Standing on a 100 foot sea cliff, visitors to the Castle of Old Wick can’t help but be impressed by its dramatic location.  This week an archaeologist and a stonemason will get an even stronger sense of its drama when they abseil over the edge to inspect are area of walling which is at risk of decay.

Due to the sensitive archaeology of the site their ropes cannot be fixed to the castle or even pinned into the ground, and will have to be attached to heavy weights resting on the ground.  

Patricia Weeks, Historic Scotland cultural resources advisor, said: “This is an area of walling which seems to be in need of conservation in order to prevent deterioration.
“The archaeologist and stonemason will go over the edge at a point where the cliff is around 100 foot high – certainly not the sort of challenge that everyone would want to take on.  They will inspect the walling and take lots of photographs which we can then use to decide the best course of action to protect the castle for the future.”

It is probably the first time that archaeologists will have had a proper chance to investigate this section of walling – as it would normally be far too risky to reach.

The castle, which is in the care of Historic Scotland, is one of the oldest in Scotland, and is believed by many to have been built by the Norse.  It stands on a narrow spine of rock projecting out into the sea with deep gullies on either side.


  • Photographers, TV and other media are invited to see the archaeologist and stonemason at work at 2pm on Wednesday, 23 September.
  • Please be aware that this will be dependant on the weather.
  • The castle is one mile south of Wick on Shore Road and is signposted from Wick.
  • Anyone wishing to attend should phone the marketing and media team in advance at the number above.
  • Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:  
  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.
  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871