John O’Groats


Viewed from Duncansy Head, John O’Groats is famous as the most northerly mainland point of the British Isles.

Local legend has that the “O’ Groats” refers to John’s charge of one groat for use of his ferry, but it actually derives from the Dutch de groot, meaning “the large”. People from John o’ Groats are known as “Groaters”. John O’Groats himself was a Dutchman, Jan de Broot who settled here. In 1496 Jan De Groot was granted a charter to the land by the Earl of Caithness. A house was built to accommodate a grand feast which was to celebrate the anniversary of his arrival in Caithness. 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. Jan de Groot ran a ferry to Orkney and charged 2p a trip. The coin for this denomination became known as the ‘groat’.

John O’Groats
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