The Castle of Mey (formerly Barrogill Castle) and surrounding lands belonged to the Bishops of Caithness. The castle of Mey was built between 1566 and 1572, possibly on the site of an earlier fortification, by George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness. Originally a Z-plan tower house of three storeys, it had a projecting wing at the south-east, and a square tower at the north-west. The Castle passed to George Sinclair"s younger son William, founder of the Sinclairs of Mey, although it later became the seat of the Earls. The Castle"s name was changed to Barrogill, and it was extended several times, in the 17th and 18th centuries, and again in 1821 when Tudor Gothic style alterations were made, to designs by William Burn. Barrogill passed out of the Sinclair family in 1889, on the death of the 15th Earl, and in 1928 it was purchased by Captain Imbert-Terry. The Castle was used as an officers" rest home during the Second World War, and in 1950 the estate farms were sold off.

The castle was in a semi-derelict state when, in 1952, it and its policies (attached lands) were purchased by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the widow of King George VI who had died earlier in the year. The Queen Mother set about restoring the castle for use as a holiday home, removing some of the 19th-century additions, and reinstating the Castle"s original name. She regularly visited it in August and October from 1955 until her death in March 2002, the last visit being in October 2001.

In July 1996 The Queen Mother made the property, the policies and the farm over to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, which has opened the castle and garden to the public regularly since her death. It is now open in summer season.

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Founded: 1566-1572
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Anne Fletcher (3 years ago)
Wonderful and in amazing location. Fantastic 5o see the Queen Mothers favourite home
Michael Pines (4 years ago)
Awesome and well worth the trip. Loved all the stories. When we were there a few months ago, one of the Queen’s former Butler was part of the tour.
Carole Newton (4 years ago)
Outstanding, we had a very knowledgeable tour guide, John, who made the visit so interesting. Beautiful Castle that must be up kept to the high standards it deserves. We owe a debt of gratitude to our wonderful Queen Mother.
Philomena Mason (4 years ago)
Really enjoyed the personal anecdotes from the guides. Very informative and could imagine the Royal family members there on holiday from the memories that were shared. The experience was an intimate one and we were made to feel more like valued guests than tourists!
Chris Colter (4 years ago)
We enjoyed the castle tour very much. Our tour guide Hazel was wonderful. So friendly and interesting. She had so much personal knowledge of the Gueen Mum which made it feel like a personal home. Enjoyed seeing the clothing that the royal mum wore also.
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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.