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Proncy Castle

Castle (Medieval), Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Proncy Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Motte (Medieval)

Canmore ID 14848

Site Number NH79SE 3

NGR NH 7712 9258

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Dornoch
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Sutherland
  • Former County Sutherland

Archaeology Notes

NH79SE 3 7712 9258.

(NH 7712 9258) Proncy Castle (NR) (remains of)

OS 6" map, (1960)

The remains of a small stone tower erected on a motte. The motte, scarped from a natural mound varies from 12' to 15' above the ridge to the south from which it has been isolated by a ditch of which distinct traces remain. The surface area of the mound is about 100' in diameter. Round the edge remains of a stone wall crop out at intervals, with traces of buildings on its inner side, and within this is a raised area about 20' broad extending all round the enceinte with occasional traces of walling on the inner side. The entrance to the motte seems to be indicated by a gap about 18' wide in the rampart of the south side with a sunk path leading diagonally up the mound.

The foundations of the tower, rectangular and shell-mortared lie in the centre of the motte and measure about 20' NE-SW by 12', and possibly 5' thick.

Several detached portions of massive, grouted masonry lie to the south of the tower. The foundations are now turf-covered.

Proncy Castle formed part of the lands granted by Hugo Freskyn to Gilbert de Moravia c 1211.

RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; C D Bentinck 1926.

Proncy Castle, the turf-covered foundations of a tower surmounting an earlier motte, as described by Simpson.

The summit of the motte is level and near circular measuring c. 34.0m in diameter.

The stone wall around it does not appear to conform to the rim, but insufficient is visible to determine its plan. In the SE sector at the base of the mound are traces of an angular corner, and there are indications that the wall continued W from it on a near straight alignment up the slope to join an exposed section c.5.0m long and c.0.4m high immediately to the E of the alleged entrance. This section is dry built of carefully laid small flat slabs, and may be part of a barmkin contemporary with the tower. Quarrying has destroyed any details of the entrance. It is uncertain what the raised area around the enceinte represents. It varies in width from about 5.0m to about 7.5m, and it is possible that it is merely a result of the quarrying which has mutilated the area around the tower. The walling noted by Simpson (Bentinck 1926) on its inner side and the traces of buildings noted by RCAHMS are not now evident. The ditch on the S is now scarcely visible and it cannot be ascertained if it ever surrounded the motte which is protected in the E and W by dry valleys.

Resurved at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (A A) 24 March 1971.


Field Visit (6 May 2015)

Proncy motte occupies a modified natural mound situated in the middle of a gully about 200m N of Proncy farm, with exposures of bedrock visible on its NE and SW. The mound itself is oval on plan and measures about 48m from N to S by 44m transversely by 3m in height, within a ditch preserved on the S that measures about 5m in breadth and about 0.25m in depth. The edge of the flattish summit is marked by a stony bank up to 2m in thickness and 0.6m in height, defining an area that measures 37m from N to S by 35m overall. A return on the SE arc may mark the entrance, but the large hollow on the WSW which interrupts the perimeter wall may be the result of the later robbing of stone rather than an entrance. Two lines of facings are visible on the SW arc suggesting two phases of perimeter wall. The interior of the summit is dominated by the truncated remains of a late or post medieval tower or range measuring about 15m from N to S by 10m across overall. Where best preserved on the W it seems to have had a wall about 1.4m in thickness that stands to over a metre in height. Quarrying for stone has left a berm at the W, N and E on which there are traces of grass-covered stony walls of demolished buildings.

A pond to the NW of the motte that once supplied water to the nearby farmsteading is dammed on its SW side where a sluice gate is visible and on the NE to a lesser degree. It is fed by a spring that could also have filled a moat with water.

A land unit called ‘Proinci’ is mentioned in a charter, dated 1222-45, constituting the Chapter of Caithness by Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness. A later charter (2 September 1275), detailing an agreement between Archibald, Bishop of Caithness and William, Earl of Sutherland, mentions three davochs of ‘Proinsy’ (Johnston, Johnston and Beaton, 1928).

Visited by RCAHMS (PD, WW, AMcC) 6 May 2015

Measured Survey (5 May 2015 - 6 May 2015)

RCAHMS surveyed Proncy Castle motte with plane-table and self-reducing alidade on 5-6 May 2015 at a scale of 1:250. Control points and sections were recorded with GNSS. The resultant plan and sections were redrawn in vector graphics software.


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