MHG8610 - Tarbat House - Kilmuir Easter


Tarbat House in Kilmuir Easter

Type and Period (2)

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (17th Century - 1601 AD? to 1700 AD?)
  • FLAX MILL (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Tarbat House stood on the site of the present ruin. Much flax yarn was spun in the east and there was for a short time a linen factory here, with hand spinning and hand looms. Most yarn was shipped to Edinburgh but a limited quantity was woven into linen cloth locally, a process which involved bleaching the finished cloth. Small bleachfields were established on the Cromarty links by the local merchant, William Forsyth, and by Munro of Culcairn, somewhere on his estate.
Ross & Cromarty - A Historical Guide by D Alston, 1999
J Aitken: 14/09/04

Built in 1650s as a successor to Ballone Castle (NH98SW 1) and replaced by the present Tarbat House (at NH 770 736) in 1787.
W Fraser 1876; G Stell 1986.

Replaced by present Tarbat House at NH 77SE 15 in 1787.

The site was visited by the North of Scotland Archaeological Society on 3rd May 2019. Research and evaluation by Roland Spencer-Jones;

On the ground, there is nothing to be seen except a platform on a previous raised beach, now a grassy pasture field. The platform almost certainly represents the site of New Tarbat, whose stones were re-used in the building of the later Tarbat House in the late 18th century, 250m to the west. The surviving remains at the site relate to the lower story or basement of Milntown Castle (MHG8623) contiguous with, and to the east of, this platform. The towerhouse remains would have been assimilated into the structure of New Tarbat. Sir George Mackenzie, later 1st Earl of Cromartie, purchased the lands of Milton, including the remains of the castle burnt in 1642, from Walter Innes of Inverbreakie in 1656 (Clough, 1990). In 1663 work started on building a new house at this site, with completion circa 1670. It was called New Tarbat, to distinguish it from “Old Tarbat”, ie Ballone Castle on the Tarbat peninsula, the previous residence of Sir George.

A Peter May map of 1756 (currently on the walls of Castle Leod) shows New Tarbat House just south, and above, a bend of the Balnagown River at approx. NH 772 737. To the south of the U-shaped building lies a large formal garden. On the map a mound bears a flagpost just to the east of the house. This probably represents a knoll 70m east of the towerhouse remains, now topped by a giant Wellingtonia, NH 7727 7370. In the shaded ground to the south of this knoll lie scattered dog graves, some with elaborate grave markers, from mid 19th century to 1948.

• Monica Clough: Two Houses. Aberdeen University Press 1990
• Eric Richards & Monica Clough, Cromartie: Highland Life 1650-1914. Aberdeen University Press 1989

Sources/Archives (5)



Grid reference Centred NH 7719 7370 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH77SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (1)

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