Scheduled Monument

Rait CastleSM1235

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Ecclesiastical: chapel, Secular: castle; manor house
Local Authority
NH 89391 52527
289391, 852527


The monument consists of Rait Castle, a rare example of a small masonry hall-house probably dating to the late 13th/early 14th century. The hall-house is surrounded by the remains of outbuildings and a building to the SE may have been a chapel mentioned in contemporary records. The site is heavily overgrown, and apart from the hall-house the remains are difficult to identify. The monument was originally scheduled in 1959. On this occasion, an indistinct and inadequate area was scheduled: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The Thanedom of Rait is first recorded in the year 1238 and its earliest recorded lords took their names from their manor; Sir Geirvaise de Rait and Sir Andrew de Rait. During the Wars of Independence Sir Geirvaise and Sir Andrew supported Edward I and probably were responsible for the castle's construction. Despite supporting Edwardian occupation the de Raits appear to have held on to the castle and lands of Rait until 1404, when the Sir Alexander Rait fled the area after slaying the Thane of Cawdor. In the 15th century the lands of Rait were held by the Mackintoshes. The last recorded reference to a castle on this site was in 1596.

The hall house consists of an oblong first floor hall raised on unvaulted cellarage, and is constructed of whinstone and granite rubble brought to courses, with red sandstone dressings. The hall measures approximately 16.5m by 6.7m and up to 11m in height, with walls nearly 2m thick. A round tower projects from the SW corner and has a corbelled domed ceiling. There is a latrine tower which projects nearly 4m to the S of the W elevation and is 2.5m wide. The hall house was entered from a first floor doorway through the S wall. The doorway is particularly fine, consisting of an outer and inner pointed arch with a hood moulding. The door was protected by a portcullis and then by a timber door secured by a draw bar. The hall is lit by lancet windows divided into three lights by a branched mullion. A fireplace, the only fireplace within the hall-house, is situated at the W end of the S wall. The positioning of the windows and the fireplace suggests that that first floor was either divided into a hall, an outer chamber with fireplace and latrine, and inner chamber within the round tower, or that the upper area of the hall had a broad dais, with the lord's private accommodation situated within the round tower.

There are slight traces on the north side of the castle suggesting an enclosing ditch. Between the hall and the knoll to the south is the courtyard, the south wall of which incorporates a steep, smooth granite outcrop. The wall is constructed of similar materials to the hall-house and stands to a height of 3m and 1.5m thick. The detached building SE of the hall-house is possibly the chapel of St Mary of Rait, or Hermit's Chapel. In 1343 Nicholas the Hermit was in occupation and records exist of a chapel c.1189-99.

The area to be scheduled includes the hall-house, the associated courtyard, buildings and possible chapel, and a surrounding area, in which traces of associated activity may be expected to survive. It is quadrangular in shape with maximum dimensions about 93m from its northernmost to its southernmost point, and 93m transversely, as marked in red on the accompanying map.



No Bibliography entries for this designation

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 (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. 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.

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Printed: 22/05/2024 18:07