This piece of pumice has clearly been used as a tool. Two sides are smooth and flat and one rough. The flattened sides were probably used to ‘burnish’ pottery. This is the process of rubbing ceramics with stone to make the surface smooth and shiny. The rough edge would have been where the person held on to the pumice. There is some brown residue on the stone which could be remains of ceramic.

The pumice was found at Castle of Old Wick and is what archaeologists call a ‘stray find’, meaning that it was found by chance. This can happen when objects buried in the ground are disturbed by things such as construction works, farm ploughing, and animal activity.

Castle of Old Wick

The history of Castle of Old Wick remains obscure and enigmatic. It was traditionally thought to have been built by Earl Harald Maddadson in the 1100s, but the surviving structure seems to date to the 14th century or later.

Documentary evidence shows that it was associated with the powerful Sutherland and Oliphant families, and was besieged during the Sutherland-Sinclair feud of the 16th century.

The Old Man of Wick

The four-storey tower dominates the castle complex. The seaward side collapsed long ago, and the castle is in an advanced state of ruin, but some features still survive:

  • narrow window slits
  • ledges for supporting timber upper floors
  • a fireplace on the second floor

Remains of other structures lie behind the tower, though these have not been archaeologically excavated.

Find out more about Castle of Old Wick


l 51mm (l 2")
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Property Information
Castle of Old Wick
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