A brief history

John O'Groats History

A mound near the John O’Groats House Hotel marks the site where Jan de Groot, a Dutchman, built his famous house in the reign of James IV (1488 – 1513). His seven descendants quarrelled about precedence and Jan de Groot solved this problem by building an octagonal house with eight doors, one for each of his seven sons and himself, and an eight sided table so that no one occupied the head of the table.

John O'Groats 1926

The Groat

Jan de Groot ran a ferry to Orkney and charged 2p a trip. The coin for this denomination became known as the ‘groat’. Jan de Groot is buried in Canisbay churchyard where his tombstone can be seen, now moved to inside the entrance porch for protection against the weather. Over a period of time the name Jan de Groot has subsequently changed to John O’Groats.

The following video depicts Alexander Matheson who was the gate keeper to the lighthouse on Duncansby Head (and not the John O’Groats House Hotel which is how it appears like in the video). The building is the John O’Groats House Hotel, and all the sand on the beaches was removed during the war and put on the fields to improve the soil.