Ancient Monuments

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Duffus Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Heldon and Laich, Moray

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Latitude: 57.6878 / 57°41'16"N

Longitude: -3.3613 / 3°21'40"W

OS Eastings: 318936

OS Northings: 867255

OS Grid: NJ189672

Mapcode National: GBR L82D.LYZ

Mapcode Global: WH6J6.B1M8

Entry Name: Duffus Castle

Scheduled Date: 27 September 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90105

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Duffus

County: Moray

Electoral Ward: Heldon and Laich

Traditional County: Morayshire


The monument to be scheduled consists of Duffus Castle.

The castle was built in about 1150 by Freskin, a Flemish soldier. His son adopted the title de Moravia and by the end of the century the family had become the most important dynasty in northern Scotland, with their caput at Duffus. Their first castle there was a fine motte and bailey. It consisted of a great earthen mound surrounded by a deep ditch.

The mound was encircled with a palisade and safe within its walls were the main buildings of the wooden castle. The castle was rebuilt in stone in the late 13th or early 14th century, although the only firm evidence of this rebuilding is a reference to the supply of 200 oaks from Darnaway forest "to build his manor of Dufhous".

The great stone keep stood three stories high, with massive timbers 11m long spanning the floors. Although it provided magnificent accommodation the instability of this great tower was soon obvious. A slice of the north wall of the keep can still be seen at the base of the mound after it slid to rest there.

The bailey is surrounded by the remains of a stone curtain wall and within this is a 15th century domestic range including a hall and cellars. This building replaced the abandoned tower and may itself have been greatly remodelled by the time Claverhouse dined here during the campaign that ended at Killiecrankie in 1689. Around the whole site is a boundary ditch, now filled with water.

The area to be scheduled includes the boundary ditch and all of the area within it. It is an irregular oval on plan and measures a maximum of 235m E-W by 240m N-S. It is marked in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Duffus Castle is of national importance because it is a particularly fine example of a motte and bailey castle which remains intact. In addition it has one of the finest stone keeps in Scotland. It also has the potential to provide archaeological evidence of fortifications, domestic arrangements, material culture and architectural details from the 12th to the 17th centuries. The castle is in the care of the Secretary of State.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NJ 16 NE 4.


Bogdan, N and Bryce, I B D, 1991, 'Castles, manors and 'town houses' survey', Discovery Excav Scot, 36.

Cannell, J, 1985, 'Duffus Castle (Duffus p), motte and bailey castle', Discovery Excav Scot, 19.

MacGibbon, D and Ross, T, 1887-92, The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v Edinburgh, vol. 1, 278-80; vol. 5, cv.

Mackie, E W 1975, Scotland: an archaeological guide: from the earliest times to the twelfth century, London, 201-2.

Mackenzie, W M, 1927, The medieval castle in Scotland, London, 45-8, 55, 57, 135.

Renn, D F, 1968 Norman Castles in Britain, London, 176n.

Scottish Castle Survey 1988, 'A directory of the owners and occupiers of the castles, manors and 'town houses' {c. 1050-c. 1707} of Scotland: Grampian Region', Aberdeen, 56, no. 123/3.

Simpson, W D, 1961, 'The castles of Duffus, Rait and Morton reconsidered', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 92, 10-14.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Duffus Castle
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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