Visitors to Royal Dornoch Golf Club are not just experiencing one of the world’s most historic courses, but also an ancient town.
Dornoch is a Royal Burgh and National Scenic Area, with settlements dating back 4,000 years. The area has an abundance of chambered cairns, hut circles, a standing stone and relics of the Picts, one of Scotland’s oldest civilisations.
Dornoch Cathedral was built in 1224 by St. Gilbert, with the first service held in 1239. In 2000, Madonna and Guy Ritchie baptised their son Rocco in the church before their wedding in nearby Skibo Castle.
Dotted throughout the picturesque, seaside town are other historically interesting features, including the Bishops Palace, a 16th century fortified tower which is now a hotel; the Old Town Jail, now a tourist attraction; and the nearby Witches Stone, which dates from 1722 when the last witch was burned in Scotland.
Four miles along the Dornoch Firth is Skibo Castle, built by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who became vice president of Royal Dornoch Golf Club. In 1901 he presented the members with the Carnegie Shield and the competition for this magnificent prize is now one of golf's oldest amateur open tournaments which was held for the 100th time in 2013.
Heading northwards, Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, as home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland.
The castle, which resembles a French château with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed the UK Houses of Parliament, and Scotland’s Sir Robert Lorimer. The castle was used as a naval hospital during the First World War and as a boys’ boarding school from 1965 to 1972.
Whisky is never far away from golf and Royal Dornoch. An annual Whisky Festival is held in the town every October, another reason for visiting the area.