MHG41974 - Balnakeil House


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Type and Period (1)

  • WALLED GARDEN (Undated)

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Full Description

See also:

NH36NE0084 Balnakeil Mill
JHooper, 20/09/2001

NC36NE 4 3919 6864
For wheel-pit close to the house, see NC36NE 51.

(NC 3919 6864) Balnakiel (NAT) OS 6" map, (1962)

Balnakiel House, built 1744, occupies site of former summer residence of Bishop of Caithness (D MacGibbon and T Ross 1891), which was presumably the 'Castle of Durinas' referred to by Gordon in 1630 as having existed at 'Baill-ne-Kill'.
Balnacille mannour, there was to be seen - till this last year (i.e. 1725) that it was thrown down for building a new house - the ruins of an old wall about eight or nine foot thick and in some places thirty foot high, without any window thereon, it seemed to extend on the one side one hundred foot long, and in breadth forty foot; there is no tradition by whom it was built, or for what purpose; it seems to have been some old monastery (W Macfarlane 1906). (The present house is a mansion in the traditional style, harled, with crowsteps) (HBD{SDD} 1967)
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1891; R Gordon 1813; W Macfarlane 1906.

The house is in use. Visited by OS (W D J) 23 June 1960.

No trace of earlier work. The present house is occupied and is of no outstanding architectural merit. Visited by OS (A A) 22 July 1971.

Superbly situated on a mound, Balnakeil House may incorporate remains of the bishop's residence but appears to be basically a laird's house of 17th century, altered and extended the following century, forming an E-plan with the main block running N-S and the wings projecting W at either end. The oldest part of the house is said to be the N wing but the walling is very thick in various other parts. The walls are harled and rise to three storeys and a garret, with the gables crow-stepped.
N Tranter 1970.

Balnakeil is situated on a natural rocky mound. No change to previous information. Visited by OS (J B) 15 April 1980.

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NC 3926 6858 (51m by 51m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC36NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DURNESS

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