Scheduled Monument

Bucholly CastleSM620

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (

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
Secular: castle
Local Authority
Planning Authority
ND 38208 65825
338208, 965825


The monument is the remains of a castle dating to the 15th century. It is visible as a ruined gatehouse structure with associated ranges of buildings evident as turf-covered walling. The monument is located on a narrow rocky promontory that projects into the sea, accessed only by a narrow isthmus, rising around 10m above sea level.

The castle is almost completely surrounded by precipitous cliffs and is accessed across a narrow isthmus around two metres wide, cut by a ditch measuring about three metres in depth and two metres in width. The gatehouse structure, of which just the west wall and part of the south wall survives, rises from the east side of this ditch and survives to a height of around nine metres. It measures about six metres north-south by 4.3m transversely. The remains of corbelling above second floor level indicates that the gatehouse had a projecting battlement. A vaulted passageway about 1.4m wide passes through the gatehouse giving access to a narrow courtyard set at right angles to this passage. The courtyard is flanked by buildings, surviving as turf-covered walling measuring up to about 1.3m in height. Traces of an outside stair giving access to an upper floor are visible in this courtyard and an extensive kitchen midden is recorded as lying along the cliff-top on the seaward side.

The scheduled area is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The monument was first scheduled in 1938 and the documentation does not conform to current standards; the present amendment rectifies this.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it can make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of late medieval society in northern Scotland and the date, construction, use and development of castles. This significance is enhanced by the similarities Bullochy has with a number of other castles located along the Caithness coast, including Castle Girnigoe built by the Sinclair earls of Caithness. Comparative analysis has the potential to add to our understanding of the spread of architectural ideas, the influence of specific families such as the Sinclairs and the importance of sea travel to the location choice for such residences. Although fragmentary, it is an impressive monument located on a coastal promontory which has been carefully exploited to accentuate the natural defences of the site. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the character of late medieval fortifications, and the structure and organisation of society and economy during this period.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 9301 (accessed on 23/04/2015).

The Highland Council Historic Environment Record reference is MHG1664.

Batey, C E (1982) Caithness coastal survey 1982: interim reports 1980-2, typescript. Durham.

Lamb, R G (1980) Iron Age promontory forts in the Northern Isles, Brit Archaeol Rep, BAR British, vol. 79. Oxford.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v. Edinburgh.

Mowat, J (1931) Place-names of Canisbay, Caithness.

RCAHMS (1911) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Third report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Caithness. London.

HER/SMR Reference

  • MHG1664

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.

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

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 04/03/2024 01:42