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Invershin Castle

Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Invershin Castle

Classification Motte (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Castle Of Duffus; Kyle Of Sutherland

Canmore ID 13001

Site Number NH59NE 2

NGR NH 5727 9636

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/13001

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Creich (Sutherland)
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NH59NE 2 5727 9636.

(NH 5727 9636) Invershin Castle (NR) (site of) (NAT)

OS 6" map, (1970)

The Castle of Invershin or Duffus, has almost entirely disappeared. The mound on which it was placed stands on the bank above the Kyle, and is some 14' in height on the landward side. It has been surrounded by a ditch.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909.

The castle mound of Invershin Castle (name verified) occurs on the south end of a gravel spur commanding the flood plain of the Kyle of Sutherland; here the valley is relatively narrow being an obvious crossing point. The mound, now overgrown with scrub, is of typical 'motte-like' proportions, being 4.0m maximum height, formed by upcast from the dry ditch which surrounds it on three sides; the fourth SW arc is defended by the steep natural slopes of the spur. The flattened summit area is disturbed, probably by stone-robbing, and the only remains of stone-walling in situ is a turf-covered fragment, 0.3m high, in the NW corner. Insufficient work survives to enable positive identification as a castle.

There is no local knowledge of the history of Invershin Castle. The name 'Castle of Duffus' (RCAHMS refers) suggests an association with Castle Duffus in Moray (NH16NE 4) a 12th century stronghold of the de Moravias. A branch of this family, the forebears of the Sutherlands, settled at Dunrobin (NC80SE 1) in the 12th century. On balance this work would appear to be a 12th century motte without bailey, probably surmounted by a stone castle; whether the castle would be contemporary with the erection of the mound is uncertain.

Revised at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 7 January 1977.

Activities

Field Visit (8 May 2015)

This motte occupies a low ridge at the W edge of a terrace above the River Shin, the ground dropping steeply to the flood plain at the SW but more gently to the NE. Roughly sub-rectangular on plan and apparently entirely man-made the motte measures 42m from N to S by about 32m transversely at the base and is about 3m in height. The flat top measures about 25m from N to S by 23m and supports the remains of three buildings poorly defined by stony banks, and perhaps replacements to original timber structures.

The motte is surrounded on the three more gently sloping sides by a ditch 15m in breadth and up to 2m in depth, and there is evidence of a slight counterscarp bank at the E. Later evidence of quarrying is provided by two large pits dug into the NE side of the mound, while a path that climbs up the SE side of the motte is probably also secondary. A building platform, presumably connected with the use of the motte, stands some 30m to the SE.

The land of ‘Inverchyn’ is mentioned in a charter of c.1211 when it was granted to the Archdeacon of Moray by Hugh Freskyn. This charter was confirmed c1214 by Hugh’s heir William who referred to the land as ‘Inverchen’ (Johnston, Johnston & Beaton). The Castle of Shin is depicted on General Roy’s Military Map of Scotland (1747-55).

Visited by RCAHMS (PD, WW and A McC) 8 May 2015

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