Ancient Monuments

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Old House of Keppoch,motte 250m south east of Keppoch

A Scheduled Monument in Caol and Mallaig, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.886 / 56°53'9"N

Longitude: -4.8401 / 4°50'24"W

OS Eastings: 227061

OS Northings: 780772

OS Grid: NN270807

Mapcode National: GBR GBFJ.7NX

Mapcode Global: WH2GT.M5CZ

Entry Name: Old House of Keppoch,motte 250m SE of Keppoch

Scheduled Date: 5 March 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6323

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Kilmonivaig

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Caol and Mallaig

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

Description

The monument consists of the earthwork remains of a castle, standing near the junction of the Rivers Roy and Spean.

The site is the end of a natural spur of land some 6m high, running approximately NW-SE. Ditches have been dug across the spur to isolate 3 mounds. The northernmost mound measures 40m NW-SE and tapers from 30m to 16m SW-NE. An earthen bank remains along much of the perimeter and although no stone is now visible it is possible either that this covers the footings of a stone curtain wall or that it originally supported a wooden palisade. There is a break in the bank at the NW end, where an entrance may have been located.

Towards the SE end of this mound is a rectangular hollow, which may mark the former position of a well. The middle mound measures approximately 6m NW-SE by 9m SW-NE, although it may originally have been larger. Its top is slightly lower than the northernmost mound. The southernmost mound (which may possibly have formed part of the system of defences rather than supported accomodation) measures approximately 12m NW-SE by 5m SW-NE.

A bank runs from this mound towards the northernmost mound, enclosing the SW side of the middle mound, and both this bank and the NW side of the southernmost mound contain significant amounts of stone. It is suggested that the castle was moated to the N and W. The castle appears to have taken the form of a motte and bailey, a form generally ascribed elsewhere in Scotland to the 12th-14th centuries.

A house or castle is recorded as having been built on this site at the beginning of the 16th century by the 6th Chief of the clan, MacDonnel of Keppoch. It is likely, however, that the site had been fortified at an earlier date than this and that this record refers to rebuilding work. It is said that after the incident known as the Keppoch murder took place in 1663 the castle was pulled down.

The scheduled area is irregular in shape, measuring a maximum of 170m NNW-SSE by a maximum of 85m WSW-ENE, as defined in red on the enclosed map. It includes the castle, its ditch to its NW, and extends 5m to the SW of the edge of the track at the foot of the mounds to include an area where it is likely that a moat existed. It excludes the surface of the modern track along the N and SW sides of the mound and the above-ground structure of modern fences and gates.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the earthwork remains of a castle, recorded from the 16th century and possibly of early medieval date. Earthwork castles of this type are extremely rare in the Western Highlands, where rocky knolls frequently provided naturally fortified sites.

Study of the remains can contribute to our understanding of the development of medieval fortification, the influence of lowland Scottish architectural forms of the Highlands, and of the structure of society in the Highlands in the medieval and early modern periods, as well as of medieval domestic life and material culture.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NN 28 SE 2.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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