The monument comprises the site and remains of the palace of the Bishops of Moray at Kinneddar. Richard, Bishop of Moray (1187-1203), is known to have resided at Kineddar, and in 1280 Bishop Archibald extended or rebuilt the castle there. The foundations of the house and enclosure wall were seen by L. Shaw and R. Pococke in the eighteenth century.
In 1734 the stronghold of Kineddar still had its foundations and fortifications "so entire as to be easily traceable". The whole covered about two acres in a hexagonal shape. In the centre was the great tower, which was later used as a bell tower for the adjoining church. The tower was defended by two walls, 50 paces apart, each having a ditch in front and an earthen ramart, 8-10 ft (2.44-3.05m) high and wide behind it.
The outer wall had a square tower, projecting 6 ft (1.8m) at each angle. Directly east of the great tower were vaulted storehouses and barracks. The outer wall, containing a sallyport, was 6 ft (1.8m) thick and 16 ft (4.9m) high. The fortification was further strengthened on the east by a "morass" and two ditches, the inner 24 ft (7.3m) and the outer 12 ft (3.7m) wide; these were defended in turn by a horn-work. By 1842, the walls had been levelled and the ditches filled in.
During the levelling work large quantities of ashes, charcoal, broken urns and human bones were found, especially under the earthen ramparts.
The site of the castle was confirmed by excavation in 1936, and has been further elucidated by aerial photography and by an archaeological assessment carried out by Edinburgh University for Grampian Regional Council in 1995. The latter included excavation, resistivity survey and analysis of aerial photographs.
It shows that substantial remains of the castle survive in the field north and east of the present cemetery. They include a large hexagonal ditched enclosure associated with a stone wall, with at least one outer ditch on the east, and remains of other walled structures.
The scheduled monument comprises an area of ground lying north and east of the cemetery, bounded by, but excluding, the cemetery wall on the south and field boundaries on the west and north. It measures a maximum of 130m WNW-ESE by 95m, as shown in red on the accompanying map extract.
Statement of National Importance
The monument is of national importance because it represents the remains of the castle, or palace, of the medieval bishops of Moray, overlying (so it appears) an earlier cemetery, and has the potential, through excavation, to shed further light on medieval architecture, social history, ecclesiastical history and material culture.
Its importance is enhanced by its very close proximity to the site of the parish church and former cathedral of Kinneddar, from which a large collection of Pictish and early Christian carved stones has been recovered.