MHG3742 - Tom A' Chaisteal


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • CASTLE (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

NH64SW 9 6045 4490.

(NH 604 448) There are the remains of a castle on the hill known as Tom-a-Chaisteal (ISSFC 1885), Tom-a-Chastle (T Wallace 1893), or Tom-a'-Caisteal (T Wallace 1921), which is a small circular hill situated not far from the farm of Kirkton, between two confluent streams, the confluence occurring at the base on the N side of the hill. In 1206 the castle appears to have been occupied by Baron Thomson - a vassal of the Lovats - but in 1220 was in the possession, until 1498, of the Corbets, Barons of Farnaway. (ISSFC 1885)
A fort (T Wallace 1921) occupies the top and measures 24 yds E-W by 19 yds N-S. On the S side there is a trench 18' wide by about 15' deep; this is not shown on sketch. On the N side is a trench 6' wide by 3' deep interrupted by an entrance path about 3' wide. Between this trench and the brow of the hill there is a ridge about 3' wide which merges into the hill on E and W. The streams have cut almost perpendicular walls around three-quarters of the hill.
ISSFC 1885; T Wallace 1893 and 1921.

NH 6045 4480."Tom a' Chaisteal" is an isolated rocky knoll with steep sides. Its mutilated oval-shaped summit has two variant levels, the higher being on the W. Overall, the top measures 40.0m E-W by 18.0m. On the N edge is an almost rectangular hollow, now mainly filled up with soil slip. It is fronted on the N with a rubble wall now overgrown, 0.3m high, and the hollow, which is sub-divided by another rubble wall (T Wallace 1921) measures c. 16.0m E-W by 3.0m.
There is a similar structure at the E end of the site at the lower level. It measures c. 9.0m by 4.0m and there is a break of 1.0m in the centre of the rubble wall on the S side. These two described features have the appearance of having been buildings, not defensive trenches as suggested by Wallace. Abutting the S end of the northernmost "building" is a hollow which seems to have been enclosed by a bank or wall, but its purpose is uncertain. Traces of a wall are to be found round part of the W edge of the summit.
The "trench" on the S side of the knoll (T Wallace 1921) is a natural water-worn channel which served as an added defence to the site, and thus isolating it from the spur of which is was a part. At the base of the SE slopes of the knoll is a causeway-like ramp crossing a marshy channel, but it is too narrow (1.0m on top) to be the approach to the castle, and seems to be a dam of later date (there are several dams in the immediate area across stream gullies).
The whole site is in a commanding position at the confluence of the two streams, with the ground on the S gradually becoming higher some distance from the knoll.
There appears to be little doubt that this is a motte, or more properly a castle hill - site of the castle alleged by ISSFC 1885. The name is apparently not known in the locality.
Surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (J L D) 28 March 1962.

(NH 6045 4490) Tom-a'-Caisteal (NR)
OS 25"map, (1964)

Tom a' Caisteal is generally as described by OS field surveyor (J L D). The site occupies such a good position of natural strength that it is difficult to believe that it has not been exploited at one time for use as a fort or castle site, but the surviving structures on the knoll appear to be no earlier than, and are probably contemporary with, the dam in the SE (see enlargement). Both buildings and the wall around the brink in the N are reduced to their footings and overgrown with grass and bracken, and the NW end of the dam and the SW part of the adjacent building are hidden by impenetrable scrub. There are traces of an access ramp to the summit in the SW.
Visited by OS (A A) 12 September 1964

Tom a' Caisteal: This fort occupies a small but prominent knoll between the confluence of two streams. It measures 40 m by 18 m within the remains of a wall; the entrance probably lay on the SW. The fort was covered with dense vegetation at the date of visit. Nothing can now be seen of the castle that stood close to this fort.
RCAHMS 1979, visited 1979.

Tom a' Caisteal is generally as described by the two previous field investigators. In view of the name and the historical background together with the definite vantage position, a castle-site appears undisputed. There is no indication to suggest an earlier fortification such as a dun or fort.
Revised at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (J M) 9 Feburary 1981.

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NH 6044 4489 (300m by 300m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH64SW
Civil Parish KIRKHILL
Geographical Area INVERNESS

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.