MHG8623 - Milntown Castle - Kilmuir Easter


Milntown Castle (remaining underground chamber probably later reused as icehouse) in Kilmuir Easter

Type and Period (3)

  • TOWER HOUSE (16th Century - 1501 AD? to 1600 AD?)
  • (Alternate Type) CASTLE (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ICEHOUSE (17th Century to 18th Century - 1601 AD? to 1800 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Castle (NR) (remains of) OS 6" map, (1959)

Milntown Castle was built by Andrew Munro, c1500. It was a seat of Earls of Cromartie. The vaults are preserved.
ISSFC 1902; W J Watson 1904.

Miltown Castle, probably a small 16th century tower of which only basement remains, is now partially underground as a result of 18th-19th century landscape gardening, and outer wall face is only visible by entrance on N side. The interior measures 3.7m square within walls 1.2m thick. The arched entrance is 1.9m high and 1.2m wide on outside, enlarging to 1.5m wide on inside face. A blocked embrasure is visible in E wall. The barrel-vaulted roof, 2.8m high from present inside floor level, contains a square hole, and has been harled. The remains are almost identical in shape, size and construction to Arkendeith Tower (NH65NE 2).
Resurveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 23 March 1966.

Munro lairds built a castle near Milton around 1500 AD which was destroyed by fire in 1642. <1>

The North of Scotland Archaeological Society (NOSAS) visited this site 3rd May 2019. Research and evaluation by Roland Spencer-Jones;

Local knowledge calls the remains (described by OS in 1966) as “the ice house”. Their considered opinion is that the underground chamber, with fine arched entrance of dressed ashlar, facing north, is both the remains of the 16th century towerhouse and an ice house. The latter would have been created from the ruins, either for the 1660’s New Tarbat House, or the 1790’s Tarbat House (250m to west). The dimensions of the ruined structure correspond with those surveyed by OS (NKB) 1966. A Peter May map of 1756 (currently on the walls of Castle Leod) shows New Tarbat House at this site. On the ground, there is a level platform in a field of pasture, contiguous with these remains, that represents the site of New Tarbat, whose stones were re-used in the building of Tarbat House. The towerhouse remains would have been assimilated in the structure of New Tarbat.

The Calendar of Fearn describes the burning of the towerhouse:
• p. 205: “The 19 of Maiye 1642 the hous of Miltoun was brint neeligentli be ane keais nest”.
• P. 206: “According to Spalding (Troubles, ii, 142), ‘the staitlie houses of Milntoun of Ross, pertening to his [the young laird of Innes’s] father, wes rekleslie brynt (except the tour) with mekill good insicht and plenishing; a thing to be notit’.”
• P. 206 A keai is a jackdaw, so the fire was probably caused by a jackdaw’s nest blocking a chimney.

Copies of the Peter May map attached. Copy of a painting of New Tarbat from Canmore attached. Photos of the castle remains/icehouse attached.

Milntown/Milton Castle is mentioned in several places in Monica Clough’s book: Two Houses, Aberdeen University Press, 1990.

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NH 7723 7370 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH77SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY

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.