MHG1664 - Bucholly Castle


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Type and Period (1)

  • CASTLE (Early Medieval to Medieval - 561 AD to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Buchollie (Mowat 1931) or Bucholie (RCAHMS 1911; MacGibbon and Ross 1887-92) Castle: This castle, dating from period 1400 - 1542, stands on a peninsula 100ft high, cut off from land by a trench 7ft wide and 9ft deep.
The keep which rose from edge of this trench measured only 14 x 20ft over all. Only W wall, standing 30ft high, an part of S wall remain. Walls of vaulted basement are 4ft thick, but on floors above, only c2.5ft.
An entrance passage 4.5ft wide gave access to a long narrow courtyard, flanked by buildings mostly bonded with clay.
An extensive kitchen midden lies along cliff-top to seaward. The castle was formerly known as Freswick. The property belonged to Mowats from time of Robert I (1306-29) until 1661, when it passed to Sinclairs.
RCAHMS 1911, visited 1910; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; J Mowat 1931.

Seven small fragments of brownish unglazed pottery from a refuse heap at Bucholly Castle were donated to NMAS by A O Curle.
Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1911

The castle was Scheduled in 1938.

Bucholly Castle (locally accepted spelling) is as described and planned by previous authorities. Buildings on W side of courtyard survive as grass-covered walling c1.3m high. The kitchen midden is no longer visible.
Revised at 1:2500. Visited by OS (R D) 9 September 1965.

Bucholly Castle (NR) (remains of) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

Bucholie Castle has been identified with 'Lamba-borg' mentioned about 1143 in Orkneyinga Saga. This would imply an earlier castle on site. (But see also ND36NE 1.)
R G Lamb 1980

Bucholly Castle is as described and illustrated. The surviving lower foundations are covered by thick vegetation.
Visited by OS (J B) 12 August 1982.

Midden deposit sampled. Erosion is extreme on all sides of castle.
C E Batey 1982.

The castle was rescheduled in 2016 to better define the area of significance following reassessment by Historic Environment Scotland. <1>

Highland Council Archaeology Unit, HCAU Slide Collection Sheet 8, 165,167 (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG24259.

MacGibbon, D and Ross, T, 1887-92, The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, Vol. 3, 338-40; plan (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2442.

PSAS, 1911, 'Donations to and purchases for the Museum and Library, with exhibits', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 45 1910-11, p.10-17, 152-7, 220-4, 315-18, 366-70, 416-18, 366 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG626.

RCAHMS, 1911, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness, 11-12, No. 32 (Text/Report). SHG2664.

Mowat, J, 1931, Place-names of Canisbay, Caithness, 6 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2546.

Miller, D B, 1975, 'Historical castles and families of the north. 1. Bucholie Castle- The Swansons and Mowats', Caithness Fld Club Bulletin Vol. 1 April 1975, p.50-2, 50-2 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG905.

Lamb, R G, 1980, Iron Age promontory forts in the Northern Isles, 96 (Text/Publication/Monograph). SHG310.

Batey, C E, 1982, Caithness coastal survey 1982: interim reports 1980-2, No. 78 (Text/Report). SHG1960.

Historic Environment Scotland, 2016, Amended entry in the Schedule of Monuments: SM620: Bucholly Castle (Text/Designation Notification/Scheduled Monument). SHG27621.

<1> Historic Environment Scotland, 2016, Changes to the Schedule of Monuments: 620, 889, 1827, 3145, 3403, 13619, 13621, 13623, 13637 (Text/Designation Notification/Scheduled Monument). SHG27616.

Sources/Archives (10)



Grid reference Centred ND 3821 6583 (300m by 300m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet ND36NE
Civil Parish CANISBAY
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Finds (1)

  • VESSEL (Undated)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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