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Freswick Castle

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Freswick Castle

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Freswick House, Can 071-3; Castle Of Freswick

Canmore ID 9282

Site Number ND36NE 3

NGR ND 37801 67142

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

ND36NE 3 37801 67142

See also:

ND36NE 8 ND 3769 6708 Dovecot

ND36NE 9 ND 3774 6713 Mausoleum

ND36NE 37 ND 37777 67120 Bridge

ND36NE 52.00 ND 37834 67064 Steading

ND36NE 52.01 ND c. 377 670 Proposed farmhouse

(ND 3780 6713) Freswick Castle (NAT)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975).

Freswick House [NAT]

OS (GIS) AIB, April 2006.

Freswick House is a tall tower-like building, probably of the early 17th century with 18th century additions, standing on a knoll and overlying an extension of the Freswick Links occupation site (ND36NE 4) characterised by a dense concentration of grass-tempered pottery in a midden layer, and possibly early structures, beneath the N part of the house (Morris, Batey and Rackham 1979).

The main building, five storeys high, lies roughly E-W, with its stair-tower midway along the N front. A later wing projects S from the E end and contemporary offices from the W end. The walls are harled and the gables of the earlier structure are crow-stepped.

The house, built by the Mowats is mentioned as 'the manor place of Burnesyde with the mill' in 1653 (see (M) 1). In 1661 it passed to the Sinclairs, and by about 1725 it was known as the House of Freswick, as opposed to the Castle of Freswick, which name is applied to ND36NE 7. It appears to have retained this name until the modern house at ND 3762 6708 was built, when the name 'Freswick Castle' was applied to it.

The existence nearby of a beehive shaped dovecot (ND36NE 8), generally accepted as being a 16th century form, might indicate an earlier house at the site, but it is equally possible that it is simply late of its type.

Although uninhabited in 1962, the house was being maintained and in 1979 was being prepared for renovation.

ND 3779 6712. A small-scale emergency excavation in 1979 in the gardens by Durham University revealed structural traces but no dating evidence. Substantial stone slabbing could represent croft remains or a farm building. It is now tree-covered.

Orig Paroch Scot 1955; J Macfarlane 1906-8; J Mowat 1931; N Tranter 1962-70; C Morris, C Batey and D Rackham 1979; C Batey 1982; Visited by OS (R D) 10 September 1962; HBD No. 6.

Freswick Castle is as described and illustrated by the previous authorities. It is still inhabited

Visited by OS (J B) 21 July 1982.


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