Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Swiney Castle, remains of, Achastle-shore

A Scheduled Monument in Wick and East Caithness, Highland

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 58.2875 / 58°17'14"N

Longitude: -3.3121 / 3°18'43"W

OS Eastings: 323164

OS Northings: 933956

OS Grid: ND231339

Mapcode National: GBR L65T.RHJ

Mapcode Global: WH6F4.3Y2M

Entry Name: Swiney Castle, remains of, Achastle-shore

Scheduled Date: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM10752

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Latheron

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Wick and East Caithness

Traditional County: Caithness

Description

The monument comprises the grass-covered remains of Swiney Castle, once held by a branch of the Sutherlands of Forse.

Situated on a steep-sided promontory, the remains take the form of a large mound flanked by ditches. On the seaward side is a double ditch with a central rampart, while on the landward side is a single ditch. The central mound is about 18m across and up to 2m high. Traces of masonry walling can be seen on the landward side, beside the track which accesses the shore, but similar evidence on the S side, which was observed some years ago, is now obscured by grass cover. An old account describes foundations of a square enclosure with a tower at each corner, but this may have been speculation rather than observation.

Until the development of Lybster harbour, Achastle-shore was an important landing place, and the castle is well sited to control it. The site is one which may also have been used in prehistoric times, although no sign of this survives. Even the medieval structure is scantily referenced, but it is believed to have been a dependent of Forse Castle, less than 1km to the E.

The area to be scheduled consists of the whole upper surface of the promontory, bounded on the N by the upper edge of the cutting for the shore access track and on the other sides by the upper edge of the rocky coastal slope. It has maximum dimensions of 135m NW-SE by 105m NNE-SSW, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a medieval stronghold, one of a series along the Caithness coastline, which in their different histories provide an illustration of the impacts of changes in defensive requirements and in the fortunes of their owners. The nature of the site is such that it is likely to preserve significant archaeological features and deposits, with the potential to illuminate the development of the castle and the economic and social life of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as ND23SW 2, Swiney Castle.

References:

Batey C E (1982b) CAITHNESS COASTAL SURVEY 1982: INTERIM REPORTS 1980-2, typescript, Durham, 247.

Forsyth R O (1805-8) THE BEAUTIES OF SCOTLAND: CONTAINING A CLEAR AND FULL ACCOUNT OF THE AGRICULTURE, COMMERCE. MINES AND MANUFACTURES OF THE POPULATION, CITIES, TOWNS, VILLAGES &C OF EACH COUNTY, 5v, 2 sets, Edinburgh, Vol. 5, 18.

OSA (1791-9) THE STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, DRAWN UP FROM THE COMMUNICATIONS OF THE MINISTERS OF THE DIFFERENT PARISHES, Sinclair J (Sir), Edinburgh, Vol. 17, 27-8.

ORDNANCE SURVEY (NAME BOOK) Name Books of the Ordnance Survey, No. 6, 154.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.