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Old House Of Keppoch

Castle (Medieval), Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Old House Of Keppoch

Classification Castle (Medieval), Motte (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Keppoch House; Keppoch Castle

Canmore ID 23794

Site Number NN28SE 2

NGR NN 2705 8077

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kilmonivaig
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NN28SE 2 2705 8077

For successor and present Keppoch House (NN 2682 8092), see NN28SE 3.

(NN 2705 8077) Old House of Keppoch (NR) (Site of)

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1903)

The first Keppoch House or Castle was built by the 6th chief of the clan, MacDonell of Keppoch, at the beginning of the 16th century. It was situated a short distance from the present house on a mound at the junction of the Rivers Roy and Spean, and was at the time surrounded by a moat, which, from the course of the River Roy having changed, is now dry. After the incident known as the Keppoch murder which took place in 1663, the castle was pulled down and not a stone remains.

According to tradition the Keppoch family had a residence here before the old castle was built.

D B MacCulloch 1938.

The site falls upon the level top of a narrow, steep-sided, natural spur of ground, c. 6.0m in height, which runs N-S along the W bank of the River Roy, terminating c. 100.0m N of its junction with the River Spean. A part of this spur had been isolated by the construction of two transverse ditches 4.0m - 5.0m deep, leaving a summit area measuring 40.0m N-S by 16.0m to 30.0m E-W. This small plateau has been enclosed by an earthen rampart running along the top of the slopes, remains of which exist on all sides, up to 3.0m in width and 0.5m in height. There is an entrance 2.0m wide running midway in the N side.

To the S is an outwork consisting of a second ditch of smaller dimensions with an outer bank which turns along the side of the spur on the W side and fades out.

The side is suggestive of a motte. There are no traces of buildings to be seen on it.

Visited by OS (ASP) 25 July 1961.

A well-preserved motte and bailey scraped out of a promontory formed by an old river terrace, on the W bank of the River Roy.

The summit area of the bailey is slightly uneven, but except for a rectangular hollow (4.0m x 2.5m x 0.5m deep), possibly a late building foundation, there is no trace of any structure. A recent access ramp scars the NW side.

Visited by OS (AA) 19 September 1974.

The site of Keppoch House or Castle, on a spur defended by ditches to the NW and SE, and elsewhere by the natural slopes, is as described planned by OS (ASP and AA). The "earthen rampart running along the top of the slope" (OS [ASP] 25 July 1961) appears to be the buried remains of a curtain wall.

According to OS (AA), this is a motte and bailey, but this is by no means certain. Its ditches are of much more massive proportions than that around the SW arc of the motte, though the defences would probably have been strengthened and modified to accommodate the 16th century castle. The summit of the motte is at original ground level, the same as the continuation of the spur to the SE, and slightly lower than the central area of the castle.

From the present remains, it would seem that the original site was a motte measuring some 20 by 16m overall, surrounded by a bank and ditch except on the river side, and perhaps with its summit, now measuring 9 by 6m, having been reduced.

By the 16th century, the motte had been replaced by a manor house or castle erected on the flat plateau to the north, which was, perhaps, raised and strengthened by a curtain wall, the ditches of the original motte serving as added defensive outworks. The small rectangular hollow (OS [AA] would appear to have been a well or excavation rather than a structure of any significance.

Visited by OS (NKB) 15 Feburary 1979.

NN 2698 8097 - NN 2710 8069 A watching brief was maintained on the line of a sewage pipeline lying close to Keppoch Motte, a Scheduled Ancient Monument (NN 2705 8077; NMRS NN28SE 02). No archaeological features relating to the motte were discovered. A small amount of Victorian pottery associated with a walled garden was the only find.

A report has been lodged with Highland SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: Halcrow Crouch Ltd.

S Farrell 1998.


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