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Due to scheduled maintenance work by our external provider, background aerial imagery on Canmore may be unavailable

between 12:00 Friday 15th December and 12:00 Monday 18th December


Castle Of Rattray

Castle (Medieval), Motte And Bailey (Medieval)

Site Name Castle Of Rattray

Classification Castle (Medieval), Motte And Bailey (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Hill Of Rattray; Castle Hill

Canmore ID 30764

Site Number NO24NW 21

NGR NO 2099 4539

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Rattray
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

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.


Field Visit (30 September 1970)

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

Field Visit (5 July 1989)

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.

Archaeological Evaluation (9 August 2013)

The development area was located on the southern edge of a motte and bailey site know as Castle of Rattray Four evaluation trenches were excavated each measuring 2 X 15m and representing 6% of the available development area. The evaluation showed that the site contained a deep build up of homogeneous topsoil or colluvium as a result of hillwash off the motte and bailey feature. The topsoil deposit revealed little evidence of any stratification and bottomed onto fine orange natural sands and gravels. Two of the trenches crossed a large ditch feature extending approximately NE-SW across the site. The ditch contained a fill of homogenous silty loam virtually identical to the topsoil and in each trench a narrow slot feature bottoming into natural sand seemed to be associated with the southern edge of the ditch. In one trench where the ditch appeared, some fragments of slag (possibly metal working) were recovered from the lower part of the topsoil and in the same trench one fragment of slag was recovered from the bottom of the ditch fill. The slag could indicate that metalworking had been taking place nearby. No significant archaeological features appeared in the other two evaluation trenches and apart from the fragments of slag there were no significant datable finds. Mitigation in the form of a watching brief on development works was recommended.

Information from OASIS (alderarc1-156671) 9 August 2013

Watching Brief (6 March 2014 - 17 March 2014)

Watching brief after evaluation (alderarc1-156671(3)) on ground-breaking works for a new dwelling house build close to the site of a motte and bailey castle (NO24NW 21) known as Castle of Rattray.

Alder Archaeology Ltd (C. Fyles D. P. Bowler) OASIS ID: alderarc1-181037


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