MHG43545 - Skelbo Castle


No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • DISTILLERY (Undated)

Protected Status

Full Description

(NH 7920 9518) Skelbo Castle (NR) (Ruins) OS 6" map (1907)

The ruin of Skelbo Castle has occupied NW corner of a walled enclosure, and has been a rectangular structure measuring internally 43ft from E to W by 29ft 6ins transversely with walls 4ft 9ins thick. The wall of the enclosure, which is 4ft 6ins thick, in great measure remains standing. Abutting SW end of castle has been a range of buildings, now completely ruined.
The site is a fine example of an early Norman fortress of motte and bailey type. The older ruins are those of a keep and barmkin probably of 14th century date although a large section of N curtain wall has been rebuilt with characteristic 16th-17th century work, which type of masonry also appears in 17th century ruin which stands in SW corner of courtyard (Bentrick 1926). This ruin was repaired and slated in 1809 and used as a dwelling-house for some time (ONB 1873). Name Book 1873; RCAHMS 1911; W D Simpson 1924; C D Bentrick 1926.

Generally as described above, castle stands at N corner and highest part of a triangular walled enclosure within which, to SE of castle, are three scarps ranging from 0.5m to 2.5m in height. The range of buildings to SW appears to have measured some 17m by 9m. Apart from a fragment of standing wall on W, it has been reduced by a rubble bank 0.5m high.
The building in SW corner of enclosure still stands two storeys high and is about two-thirds roofed. Some older local inhabitants recall it being in a habitable condition, and believe it to have served as a distillery.
Footings of another building, 9m by 5m and 0.5m high, adjoin S wall of enclosure. Fragments of walling are exposed in several other places and a great deal of rubble is strewn over whole site.
Access has been from the SW corner of the enclosed area.
Visited by OS (R D L) 4 April 1964.

This castle was seat of Sutherlands of Skelbo, prior to their inheriting Lordship of Duffus in C14th. Even after this inheritance it seems to have continued as their main domicile.
N Tranter 1962-70.

No change to the previous field report. Revised at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (J B) 27 May 1981.

See also NH79NE0079 - Smithy identified as present at Skelbo Castle from 1st ed OS map.

The castle was listed at Category B in 1985.

The castle was scheduled by Historic Scotland in 1995.

Building signed as dangerous so no internal visit. Lies on promontory above the Forth, sides are eroding away beneath the walls towards the NE edge/ Stone precinct wall with ruined building within. NB stones in the field wall to the E beside the road, used to raised the line are mostly worked and may well have come from the castle. One architectural piece (decorative pillar/base?) lies on top of the wall opp Skelbo Castle Cottage, but other pieces are prob also included - HAW 8/2003

This site was photographed from the air by Jim Bone in 2008. <1>

The building was de-listed in May 2015 as part of a project looking at dual designations of castles in the Highlands. It remains a scheduled monument. <2>

Sources/Archives (21)



Grid reference Centred NH 7919 9516 (14m by 23m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH79NE
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish DORNOCH

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