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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 686127

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NO24NW 21 2099 4539.

(NO 2099 4539) Castle of Rattray (NR) (Site of)

OS 6" map (1957)

For architectural fragments built into Old Mains of Rattray (NO 2065 4525), see NO24NW 48. For another Rattray motte, see NK05NE 4.

The remains of a motte and bailey occupy the tree-covered east summit of Castle Hill, a steep-sided gravelly hillock rising to 225 ft above sea level. The motte and bailey is oriented NNW-SSE with the motte occupying the north end and the bailey, divided into an upper and a lower bailey by a broad deep cross-ditch, sloping away to the south.

The flat-topped motte rises 1.0m above the bailey and the remains of a stone wall can be traced round its edge. A portion of stone wall can be seen along the east edge of the "upper" bailey and a sub-oval hollow at the south end of the"lower" bailey probably indicates the site of a building. The probable existance of other buildings is indicated by considerable stone debris in the east half of the "upper" bailey.

The Rattrays settled here in the 11th c. and the first recorded head of the family, Man de Rattref, resided here in the latter half of the 12th c. (A H Millar 1890)

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 30 September 1970

In the early 1970's, quarrying all but removed the remains of an earthwork castle from the Hill of Rattray. It appears to have comprised a motte and two baileys, but only parts of the upper bailey (with an enclosing bank 2.5m thick and 0.3m high), the outer bailey (28m by 11m) enclosed by a bank ( 1.3m thick and 0.3m high) and the intervening ditch (7.6m wide by 0.4m deep) now survive.

Stobie (1783) annotates his map 'Castle in ruins', while both the authors of the Statistical Account and the Ordnance Survey Name Book entries record the remains of a substantial building on the eastern summit of the hill. This is probably to be identified with 'the castle tower fortalice and manor place of Rattray' accompanying 'the Castle Hill thereof', referred to in P Lawson's disposition of 1818, and may be the building illustrated on a painting (the property of the Rattrays of Craighall) which depicts a ruined tower of at least three principal storeys; the painting also depicts abutments which are possibly the remains of its curtain walls. Fragments of moulded stones in re-use at Old Mains of Rattray (NO24NW 48) and a moulded lintel, wrought with a sundial and bearing the date 1673 and the initials PMR (said to have been removed from Castlehill Cottage prior to demolition and now in Alyth Museum), may have come from this building or some other laird's dwelling close by.

The lands of Rattray are said to have been in the possession of the family of that ilk from the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057-93) and remained their principal seat until the early 16th century.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS) 5 July 1989.

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