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Forres Castle

Castle (Medieval), Motte (Medieval)(Possible)

Site Name Forres Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Motte (Medieval)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Forres, High Street; Castle Hill; Castlehill

Canmore ID 15794

Site Number NJ05NW 18

NGR NJ 0341 5873

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Forres
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Morayshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ05NW 18 0341 5873

For monument at NJ 0340 5873, see NJ05NW 137.

(NJ 0341 5873) Forres Castle (NR) (Supposed site of)

OS 6" map (1938)

The Royal Castle of Forres stood at the west end of the High Street beside the Burn of Mosset, where its foundations were found during tree planting before 1882. It has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, the earliest destruction allegedly being AD 850 by the Norsemen. In the 14th century it was greatly strengthened, by thick walls and a keep with flanking towers, and was held by the Dunbars of Westfield from then until the 17th century, when it is thought to have fallen into decay. David II was in residence in AD 1367. In 1712 Provost Dawson commenced a town-house in the centre of the mound. It was not completed and was leveelled with the town of Forres acquired the site from Sir Alexander Grant.

Nothing now remains above ground level and little is known of the form of the castle and its extent beyond the foundations which are marked out. It it thought to have been an oblong building, 250 feet by 82 feet, with towers on the west.

L Shaw 1882; E S Armitage 1912; J B Ritchie 1932; R Douglas 1936

The site is a flat topped hill at the west end of Forres High St. There is nothing to be seen to indicate the former existence of a castle, and the area has been landscaped as a public park.

Visited by OS (RDL) 18 September 1963

Architecture Notes

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23682- DC23691, 1930- 1931.


Field Visit (1870)

The name applies to a small eminence situated at the east end of Forres overlooking the Forres Burn and adjoining Bridge Street. On it is situated the ancient castle of Forres from which it takes its name, the remains of which are now visible. It contains a neat cottage, Dr Thompson’s monument and part of a building commenced by [David ?] Dawson of Forres in 1713 which was intended as a town residence [a bit unclear on the microfilm], but was never completed owing to the proprietor [illegible] up in the troubles of 1715. It was subsequently never built higher than the vaulted cellars in which state it remains to the present day with much the appearance of an ancient ruined castle and is I believe looked on as the remains of the ancient castle of Forres. It is the property of Sir Charles Macgregor of London.

Information from Ordnance Survey Object Name Book.

Publication Account (1982)

One of the first concrete references to the castle occurs in 1264, when William Wiseman, Sheriff of Forres, disbursed £10 for building a new tower beyond the king's chamber, and moreover 16s 10d in wages were paid to two hawk-catchers for fourteen weeks (Douglas, 1934, 523). In 1297, it was said to have been in English hands, and in that year it was attacked and taken by the patriotic party under the command of Sir Andrew Murray. After Bruce's victory at Bannockburn in 1314 it was transferred to the custody of the Earls of Moray. Before the end of the century possession of the castle passed to the Dunbars of Westfield who remained hereditary sheriffs of Moray for centuries. The castle itself probably fell into decay at the end of the seventeenth century, and the stones were removed and incorporated into dwelling houses round about.

[In the early years of the eighteenth century, the town's provost, Sir William Dawson, planned to construct a mansion on the site of Castle Hill, and much of the remains were cleared away. Dawson's Town house was never completed and for nearly two centuries the ruins of the house were often taken for the original castle ruins. Another attempt to build on the site occurred in 1845 when General Sir Lewis Grant uncovered the foundations of the early castle. The foundations, discovered eighteen feet below the surface, extended in a line from east to west for twenty-six yards and the walls were six feet in thickness. The western approach appeared to have been defended by an angular turret (Barron, 1913. iii, 71). Nothing now remains above ground level and the area has now been landscaped as a public park.

Information from ‘Historic Forres: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1982).


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