Published: 17/05/2017 19:06 - Updated: 18/05/2017 14:15

Castle of Mey goes wild with new animal centre

The new animal centre at Castle of Mey.
The new animal centre at Castle of Mey.

ONE of the county’s most visited landmarks has opened a new tourist attraction within its grounds which is already being hailed as a good “moo-ve”.

Castle of Mey is celebrating the start of its 2017 season today by opening its new purpose-built animal centre in the East Woods.

The centre offers visitors an opportunity to interact with farm animals in a rustic environment.

Children are encouraged to have contact with baby chicks in their incubator, try their hand at milking a cow and will even have the chance to bottle-feed lambs during the spring season.

The centre has been built entirely using traditional materials found in Caithness which includes a flagstone roof and is the new home for the castle’s livestock.

A vernacular construction of an oak cruck frame was used to create a contemporary interior to the main croft house. There are three different elements of the house, each of which has a different roof finish.

The main croft house has the traditional large-scale flagstone roof of which there are only a few surviving examples in Caithness.

During the building phase, Thurso firm O’Brien Construction invited students from North Highland College UHI onto the site during the construction phase.

The Queen Mother bought the castle in 1952 when it was then called Barrogill Castle. At her request, it was renamed and extensively refurbished with many of the rooms decorated with fine art and furnishings, which were bought by her locally.

She also oversaw the restoration of the castle’s gardens, including its famous sheltered walled garden where many tender plants flourish. In 1996, the Queen Mother gifted the castle with an endowment to the Castle of Mey Trust, which later opened its doors to the public. It has since turned into one of the far north’s top tourist attractions.

The castle was built between 1566 and 1572 and its jutting towers and corbelled turrets are typical of that period.

The castle is open to the public until Saturday, September 30 though it will be closed between Thursday, July 29 and Wednesday, August 9 for the annual visit of the Duke of Rothesay.

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