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Dunbeath Castle

Country House (17th Century)

Site Name Dunbeath Castle

Classification Country House (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Lat 283; Dunbeath Castle Policies

Canmore ID 8025

Site Number ND12NE 1

NGR ND 15801 28264

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Latheron
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Caithness
  • Former County Caithness

Archaeology Notes

ND12NE 1.00 15801 28264

(ND 1580 2826) Dunbeath Castle (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1973).

ND12NE 1.01 ND 15372 28911 Gate Lodge

ND12NE 1.02 ND 15571 28424 Stables

ND12NE 1.03 ND 15662 28403 Southern walled garden

ND12NE 1.04 ND 15725 28444 Northern walled garden

ND12NE 1.05 ND 15713 28476 Northern walled garden, pavilion (Laundry)

ND12NE 1.06 ND 15303 28991 Dovecot

See also:

ND12NE 5 ND 1546 2795 Croft

ND12NE 20 ND 15359 28910 Trompe l'Oeil Gates

Dunbeath Castle occupies a striking cliff-top site, defended to landward by a deep dry ditch. Although it is said to contain 15th century work, the building dates substantially from the first half of the 17th century; it is still occupied and entire, with large modern additions to N and E. The plan is an oblong, some 64ft by 25ft, of four storeys, with two-storey angle-turrets at all angles save the NE. The northern of two stair-turrets in the centre of the main W front is modern, replacing a similar one shown in an 1821 drawing, but missing by 1891. The walls, reaching 5 ft in thickness, are harled and whitewashed, the roofs steep, the gables crosstepped, and there are numerous gunloops and shot-holes. The round-headed doorway between the two frontal turrets is modern. Internally there has been much alteration.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1895; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909; N Tranter 1962-70.

Dunbeath Castle is as described and illustrated by previous authorities.

Visited by OS (R L), 6 March 1968.

No change to the previous field report. The mansion is still inhabited.

Visited by OS (N K B), 21 March 1983.

Architecture Notes


Photograph album with view of Dunbeath Castle, Thurso and vicinity c. 1890

Copies of plans at Dunbeath Castle, 3 colour prints of the plans

showing addition - missing at time of upgrade - 14.6.1996.

EXTERNALREFERENCE - Scottish Record Office

Survey of the Castle and Sketch of the proposed improvements.

Magnus Tait, Architect and Fish Curer, agrees to carry out this task.

1856 GD 136/617/2

Addendum to Specification of retaining wall on the East side of Dunbeath


Initialled by Thomas Hamilton, Architect (1784-1858).

1857 GD 136/1049/1

Measurement of slaterwork taken from the drawings of Additions

pruposed to be made at Dunbeath Castle. Thomas Hamilton, Architect


Signed by George Cousin, Surveyor.

1857 GD 136/1049/2

Additions to the Castle and repairs to the old building.

Letter from William Thomson Sinclair. He indicates that Mr (Thomas)

Hamilton, Architect (1784-1858) believes that a contractor could be

found to undertake the work for 3,000 [pounds]. If this is not possible he

will make new plans free of charge.

1857 GD 136/604/40

Addition and improvements to Dunbeath Castle.

The work required and the estimated cost of 2,300 [pounds] is noted in a

letter from William Leslie, Architect.

1846 GD 136/598

Alterations to the East Wing of Dunbeath Castle.

Estimate accompanied by a rough sketch from Donald Dunbar. The stone

lintel of the Hall door is to be cut away to the level of the door.

Sleepers and flooring are to be introduced after taking up stonework

of lobby. Doorways in the Gable and the Lobby leading to the attics

are to be heightened and the marble chimney piece in the principal room is to be taken down and re-erected to suit alteration.

1851 GD 136/1023/1-2

Additions to Dunbeath Castle.

Account for sketches and working drawings amounting to 45.2.0. [pounds] from

William Leslie, Architect.

1852 GD 136/1032

Proposed additions. Measurement of work. Thomas Hamilton, Architect.

1857 GD 136/1049/2

Retaining wall on East side of Dunbeath Castle. Addition to specifications

1857 GD 136/1049/1

Estimate for alterations to East wing of Dunbeath Castle.

Donald Dunbar. Sketch (rough).

1851 GD 136/1023/1-2

Addition and improvement - cost 2,300. [pounds] Estimate by Wm. Leslie.

1846 GD 136/598

Survey of the Castle and sketch of proposed improvements.

Letter from Magnus Tait. He agrees to carry this out.

1856 GD 136/617/2

Postponed. Mr. Hamilton says plans can be carried out for 3000 [pounds] - if not he wil make new ones.

c. 1858 GD 136/604/40

Copies of plans at Dunbeath Castle, 3 colour prints of the plans

showing addition - missing at time of upgrade - 14.6.1996.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Project (1980 - 1982)


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