MHG8226 - Possible Fort, Ormond Castle


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Type and Period (2)

  • MOTTE (Early Medieval to Medieval - 561 AD to 1559 AD)
  • (Alternate Type) FORT (Early Medieval to Medieval - 561 AD to 1559 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

Ormond Castle (NR) OS 6" map, (1959

For bronze axe hoard from 'Ladyhill' traditionally linked with this locality, see NJ26SW 121.
Ormond Castle, or Castle of Avoch, was seat of Ormonds, and is said to have been one of royal castles built c1179. There are early references to "Mote of Ormond'. It is said to have been destroyed on approach of Cromwell's army 1650. Castle appears to have been of coarse red sandstone and lime. Only foundations remain. The site was partially cleared by Beaton, who believed that some of tower foundations, which appear to be circular, would prove to be rectangular, as did tower 'A' on plan. The outer defences on NE follow contour of hill. According to NSA (1845) these are composed of three breastworks with median ditches, but Beaton (1885) mentions only one ditch. NSA 1845; A J Beaton 1885.

Remains of Ormond Castle are generally as described and planned by Beaton: walls are mostly reduced to vague turf-covered footings 0.3m in height. Consists of three courts aligned NE and SW and occupying summit of Ormond Hill. The central court contains foundations of two oblong buildings and incorporates the footings of 4 towers or turrets in its SW and SE walls. The entrance, of which no trace remains, was probably in SW side.
NW and SE walls are extended to NE to form, at a lower level, a semicircular court containing an oblong building foundation; and incorporating a fifth tower in its SE arc. There is no trace of wall shown by Beaton (1885) within this court.
At opposite end of central court NW wall extends to W and S to delimit third court, NW arc of which incorporates a tower additional to that shown by Beaton.
To NE, where slopes of Ormond Hill are slightest, there are also remains of two banks and ditches.
There is a stone-lined well, within W tower of inner court and on a shelf to SE of that court, rock cut basin shown by Beaton (1885) as well. The approach through outworks runs NE and upwards on to this shelf.
Resurveyed at 1/2500. Visited by OS (N K B) 17 March 1966.

The earthworks around NE shoulder of hill comprise two ditches with outer banks, inner of which contrives around NW and SE sides of hill in form of a terrace reminiscent of an IA fort, for which hill is eminently suited. However clear-cut nature of ditches in NE suggests a later date.
Visited by OS (N K B) 3 December 1970.

For possible hoard of flat bronze axes, said to be from this area but more probably from Ladyhill district of Elgin, see NJ26SW 121. It appears probable that Beaton included these in his account of Ormond Castle on account of their having been presented to Elgin Museum by James Fletcher of Rosehaugh, a nearby property.
Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 20 April 1990.

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

Castle : Site of Ormond Castle, Avoch. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12514.

Site of Ormond Castle, Avoch. (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG11629.

NSA, 1845, The new statistical account of Scotland by the ministers of the respective parishes under the superintendence of a committee of the society for the benefit of the sons and daughters of the clergy, Vol. 14, Ross and Cromarty, 390 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2597.

Beaton, A J, 1885, 'Notes on Ormond or Avoch Castle, in the Black Isle, Ross-shire, with a plan and section; and notice with drawing of bronze celts found in its vicinity', Proc Soc Antiq Scot Vol. 19 1884-5, p.400-5, 400-4 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG1200.

Mackenzie, W M, 1927, The medieval castle in Scotland, 30 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2470.

RCAHMS, 1979, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The archaeological sites and monuments of the Black Isle, Ross and Cromarty District, Highland Region, 21, No. 132 (Text/Report). SHG2675.

Stell, G, 1986, Architecture and society in Easter Ross before 1707, 107 (Text/Publication/Article). SHG3139.

<1> Bone, J, 2008-9, Aerial photographs of various HER sites submitted by Jim Bone (Image/Photograph(s)/Aerial Photograph/Oblique). SHG25362.

Sources/Archives (8)



Grid reference Centred NH 6965 5357 (143m by 153m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NH65SE
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish AVOCH

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