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Thurso is situated at the mouth of the Thurso, on Thurso Bay, 21 miles North West of Wick, and 319 miles North of Edinburgh. It is the most northerly town in Scotland. In Macdonald Square, laid out with ornamental walks, there is a statue of Sir John Sinclair. A promenade along the sands was opened in 1882. To the east is Thurso Castle, the residence of the Ulbster branch of the Sinclairs, and near it is Harold's Tower, built over the grave of Earl Harold, once owner of half of Caithness, and half of the Orkneys and Shetlands, who fell in battle with Earl Harold the Wicked in 1190.

About three-quarters of a mile west stand the ruins of the bishop's palace, which was destroyed by fire in 1222. Thurso was the centre of the Norse power on the mainland when at its height under Thorfinn (1014), and afterwards till the battle of Largs (1263). Count Modach, nephew of King Duncan, quartered his army for a time at Thurso and despoiled it till he was surprised and slain by Thorfinn in 1040. In the time of Malcolm II. Earl Erlend resided in the town. In 1633 it was created a burgh of barony.

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