Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Castle Of Mey

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

THE CASTLE OF MEY (R8x32) 3C (4C set) John S Walton RSCDS Diamond Jubilee

1- 8 Inveran Reels - 1s cross down to dance ½ reel of 3 on opposite side; 1s cross up to dance ½ reel on own sides (2s out/up, 3s in/up), 2s face out
9-16 1s+2s dance double Figs of 8 (1s start crossing down, 2s dancing up)
17-24 1s lead down the middle and back up, 1s end in middle of the set facing each other both hands joined, 2s step in ready for
25-32 1s+2s dance Poussette

(MINICRIB. Dance crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

The Castle Of Mey - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The Castle of Mey is in Caithness, on the north coast of Scotland, about 6 miles west of John O' Groats.

The lands of Mey 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 the structure 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, when it passed to F.G. Heathcote (Sinclair). In 1929 it was purchased by Captain FB 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. By that time, only the tower was inhabitable.

Barrogill Castle was in a semi-derelict state when, in 1952, the estate was purchased by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the widow of King George VI, who had died earlier in the year. According to a February 2019 report:

"The castle was probably built between 1566 and 1572 by George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness and includes a dominating tower with a series of tall ranges to the side and rear creating a three-sided courtyard open to the north and the sea."

The Queen Mother set about restoring the castle for use as a holiday home, removing some of the 19th-century additions, and reinstated the castle's original name. As part of the restoration, the castle was for the first time supplied with electricity and water.

Other work done in 1953-1954 included making the castle weathertight and habitable, as well as painting and plastering. The castle interior was also refurbished over the next few years. The west wing restoration was not completed until 1960.

The Queen Mother hung several portraits of the previous owners, the Earls of Caithness, around the castle. She regularly visited it in August and October from 1955 until her death in March 2002; the last visit was 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 (2020) open seven days a week from 1 May until 30 September each year, with a closed period of ten days at the end of July and the beginning of August, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall usually stay at Mey. The Trust opened a new Visitor Centre in early 2007, and the visitor numbers for that year topped 29,000.

The Castle Of Mey - Information Video

Castle of Mey, Scotland
The Castle Of Mey, 2006

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Castle Of Mey article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright jack_spellingbacon / CC BY (, via Wikimedia Commons.

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