Ancient Monuments

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Dunskeath Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Tain and Easter Ross, Highland

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Latitude: 57.6948 / 57°41'41"N

Longitude: -4.003 / 4°0'10"W

OS Eastings: 280701

OS Northings: 868985

OS Grid: NH807689

Mapcode National: GBR J8HD.12M

Mapcode Global: WH4FF.HV0G

Entry Name: Dunskeath Castle

Scheduled Date: 14 August 1974

Last Amended: 19 September 2016

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3319

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Nigg (Highland)

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Tain and Easter Ross

Traditional County: Ross-shire


The monument comprises the remains of a motte, an artificial mound which formed the foundations for a timber castle, recorded as first fortified by King William I of Scotland in 1179. The monument is visible as two semi-circular earthwork ditches and ramparts with a single earthen mound in the interior. The site is located on a clifftop promontory overlooking the narrow channel into the Cromarty Firth, at between around 30m and 60m above sea level.

Two semi-circular ditches with inner ramparts terminate at each end on the south side on steep, naturally defensive slopes.  The western end of the outer ditch and rampart has been partially levelled over time. The inner mound survives and has been re-used during the Second World War for a coast artillery position. This has since been demolished, although the remains are still present on the site.

The scheduled area is irregular on plan to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction and use is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The monument was first scheduled in 1974 and the documentation does not conform to current standards. This amendment rectifies this.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the past, in particular the construction of timber castles within northeast Scotland and their impact on the surrounding landscape and society. The monument retains its form to a substantial degree and although there are many mottes across Scotland, their place in the history of north-east Scotland in particular is under researched. Dunskeath is of particular significance because its construction is documented in contemporary sources as associated with a specific royal campaign to suppress insurrection against the Canmore Dynasty. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our ability to appreciate and understand timber castles in 12th century Scotland and how such castles were used by the Crown to extend royal authority and control.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 15235

Local Authority HER/SMR Reference: MHG8444

Anderson, A O. (1922) Early sources of Scottish history, A.D. 500 to 1286, 2v. Edinburgh. Page(s): Vol. 2, 301-2

Mackenzie, W M 1950, 'Old Cromarty Castle , in Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol. 82, 1947-8. P. 60-1

Reg Reg Scot. (1971) Regesta Regum Scottorum, volume 2: the acts of William I, King of Scots, 1165- 1214, in Barrow, G W S and Scott, W W. Edinburgh. Page(s): 292, 454.


HER/SMR Reference

Highland Council HER MHG8444

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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