MHG3265 - Urquhart Castle


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Type and Period (1)

  • CASTLE (Early Medieval to 19th Century - 561 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

NH52NW 3 5305 2860

For bronze axes from Urquhart Castle, see NH52NW 7.

(NH 5305 2860) Urquhart Castle (NR) (Ruins) Drawbridge (NR) (Remains of) Fosse (NR)
OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1905)

For full description see DoE guide 'Urquhart Castle'.
W D Simpson 1964

A portion of a penannular brooch of c.9th century date from Urquhart Castle is in the NMAS.
Information from C W Phillips

Urquhart Castle is as described and planned by DoE.
Visited by OS (R L) 11 Feburary 1970.

The castle was listed at Category A in 1971.

The castle was scheduled in 1981.

A list of the finds discovered during the work by the Ministry of Work in in the early part of the 20th century was published in PSAS in 1982. Unfortunately, their stratigraphical locations, other than feet below ground, was not recorded. The dating of the finds is difficult, but some would appear to fit with the historical record of occupation between 13th-17th centuries. A small number also hint to an earlier occupation of the site in the early medieval period. <1>

NH 530 286 An archaeological evaluation comprising geophysical survey and trial trenching was undertaken by Headland Archaeology Ltd between the moat and the A82 at Urquhart Castle. The evaluation was designed to investigate the impact of a proposed new visitor centre and car park on any preserved archaeological deposits. The geophysical surveys were undertaken by Archaeological Services WYAS. The resistivity survey identified a large low resistance linear anomaly running E-W for c 35m and ending abruptly 140m W of the castle moat. A trench was cut across the anomaly and a large medieval clay-lined ditch was identified which measured 9m wide and 2.5m deep. Fragments of pottery dating from between the 13th and 15th centuries were found in the secondary fill, together with a number of medieval iron objects, a circular sharpening stone, a crucible fragment and burnt animal bone. An Early Modern bayonet was also recovered adjacent to the ditch although this is not believed to be associated with the feature. With the exception of one modern ditch no further archaeological features were identified in trial trenches.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
C Moloney 1997

An archaeological excavation was carried out by Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) on a gravel terrace overlooking Urquhart Castle in advance of a new car park and visitor center. The aim of the excavation was to investigate any archaeological remains likely to be affected by the development. These include a possible ditch containing locally made medieval pottery, discovered during the evalution carried out in 1997. GUARD exposed an area of 25m by 20m, centred on the evaluation trench, and uncovered a large square-shaped enclosure with the remains of cobbled surfaces and the stony foundations of structures to the west. In the east part of the enclosure, a large amount of boulders were uncovered which may be the remains of a building. In the center of the trench, the upper layers of soil and gravel were removed to reveal layers of silts containing medieval pottery, charcoal and animal bones. Other finds include circular sharpening stone, iron nails, iron scale and an unidentifiable coin thought to be of medieval date. The presence of the iron slag suggests that a smithy may be close by. The exact function of these archaeological remains is unclear; they may be the remains of houses and workshops of people based at the castle, who worked on surrounding agricultural estates. Alternatively, they may be the remains of earthworks and ditches created by people who had laid siege to the castle.
Sponsor: Historic Scotland
EM 06/2004

Two reconstruction drawings of Urquhart Castle were drawn by and submitted to Highland HER by A Spratt in December 2012. <2>

The castle was reviewed by Historic Scotland in 2014 as part of the Dual Designation Project. The site was not visited but it was recommended that the building be de-listed but remain a scheduled monument. <3>

The NMS catalogue lists an excavation assemblage from Urquhart Castle, under Acc. No. 2014.61. It is unclear which excavation these are from. <4>

Documents kept in the Inverness Museum Archives indicate that a pennanular brooch portion, found 50 years previously at the castle, was sent from Inverness Museum to the NMS in 1955, having been donated by the finder's daughter. It was silver coated and retained traces of gilding and the setting at the centre of the terminal had not survived. It had previously been identified as a fragment of harness mounting. <5>

The brooch terminal is listed in the Inverness Museum catalogue under Acc. No. 00.083. <6> There is a cast of the portion of the brooch in the NMS, which is listed under Acc. No. FC 263. This is described in the catalogue as from a penannular brooch with a setting for enamel or a stone, surrounded by a sunk ring with a circle of raised dots and three broken projecting semicircles on the edge. <4>

Sources/Archives (52)



Grid reference Centred NH 5303 2862 (196m by 325m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH52NW
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Investigations/Events (11)

External Links (3)

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