Ancient Monuments

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Tom Pitlac, Motte

A Scheduled Monument in Badenoch and Strathspey, Highland

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Latitude: 57.2553 / 57°15'18"N

Longitude: -3.7468 / 3°44'48"W

OS Eastings: 294715

OS Northings: 819638

OS Grid: NH947196

Mapcode National: GBR K93K.4F7

Mapcode Global: WH5JT.FW1X

Entry Name: Tom Pitlac, Motte

Scheduled Date: 17 August 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM9110

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: motte

Location: Duthil and Rothiemurchus

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Badenoch and Strathspey

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument consists of the earthwork remains of a motte, situated high on the north bank of the River Spey, about 1km north of Boat of Garten. The motte exploits the natural strength of an oblong plateau bounded on one side by the Spey. This accounts for its rather unusual shape, lying with its main axis NE and SW. The motte does not conform to the classic pudding-bowl profile; instead, the three landward sides of the plateau are defended by V-shaped ditches, almost 3m deep. At the E end of the enclosed area there is a rectangular depression, possibly the site of a building; in the 19th century it was reported that the summit of the motte had traces of grass-covered foundations.

The name Tom Pitlac is associated with Bigla Cumin (an alternative name for the site is Bigla Cumming's Castle), daughter of Gilbert Cumin, Lord of Glenchearnach in the early 15th century. However, an earthwork castle such as Tom Pitlac is more likely to date to the 12th or 13th centuries. The association with Bigla Cumming may represent later re-use in the 15th century, or even continuity of use.

The area to be scheduled includes the motte and an area around in which features associated with the motte's construction and use may survive, and measures a maximum of 85m along its long axis, by a maximum of 65m transversely, as marked in red on the attached map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved motte situated in an area of Scotland which has few monuments of this kind. The exploitation of a natural plateau, the form of the earthwork, and the re-use or continued use of the site in the later medieval period are interesting features and help to demonstrate the complex nature of such monuments. The archaeology of this monument has the potential to increase our knowledge about the construction techniques, defences and domestic life of such early castles.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NH91NW 4.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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