Scheduled Monument

Swiney Castle, remains of, Achastle-shoreSM10752

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
08/09/2003
Supplementary Information Updated
03/10/2017
Type
Secular: castle
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Latheron
NGR
ND 23165 33953
Coordinates
323165, 933953

Description

The monument comprises the grass-covered remains of Swiney Castle, once held by a branch of the Sutherlands of Forse.

Situated on a steep-sided promontory, the remains take the form of a large mound flanked by ditches. On the seaward side is a double ditch with a central rampart, while on the landward side is a single ditch. The central mound is about 18m across and up to 2m high. Traces of masonry walling can be seen on the landward side, beside the track which accesses the shore, but similar evidence on the S side, which was observed some years ago, is now obscured by grass cover. An old account describes foundations of a square enclosure with a tower at each corner, but this may have been speculation rather than observation.

Until the development of Lybster harbour, Achastle-shore was an important landing place, and the castle is well sited to control it. The site is one which may also have been used in prehistoric times, although no sign of this survives. Even the medieval structure is scantily referenced, but it is believed to have been a dependent of Forse Castle, less than 1km to the E.

The area to be scheduled consists of the whole upper surface of the promontory, bounded on the N by the upper edge of the cutting for the shore access track and on the other sides by the upper edge of the rocky coastal slope. It has maximum dimensions of 135m NW-SE by 105m NNE-SSW, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a medieval stronghold, one of a series along the Caithness coastline, which in their different histories provide an illustration of the impacts of changes in defensive requirements and in the fortunes of their owners. The nature of the site is such that it is likely to preserve significant archaeological features and deposits, with the potential to illuminate the development of the castle and the economic and social life of its inhabitants.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as ND23SW 2, Swiney Castle.

References:

Batey C E (1982b) CAITHNESS COASTAL SURVEY 1982: INTERIM REPORTS 1980-2, typescript, Durham, 247.

Forsyth R O (1805-8) THE BEAUTIES OF SCOTLAND: CONTAINING A CLEAR AND FULL ACCOUNT OF THE AGRICULTURE, COMMERCE. MINES AND MANUFACTURES OF THE POPULATION, CITIES, TOWNS, VILLAGES &C OF EACH COUNTY, 5v, 2 sets, Edinburgh, Vol. 5, 18.

OSA (1791-9) THE STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND, DRAWN UP FROM THE COMMUNICATIONS OF THE MINISTERS OF THE DIFFERENT PARISHES, Sinclair J (Sir), Edinburgh, Vol. 17, 27-8.

ORDNANCE SURVEY (NAME BOOK) Name Books of the Ordnance Survey, No. 6, 154.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 16/10/2019 08:59