Statement of National Importance
The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:
Although the tower house has been ruinous since at least the late 19th century, the building still stands to nearly its full height. The exterior walls of whin rubble with ashlar dressing survive. Much of the interior structure has been lost, but many architectural features can still be seen, such as window and door frames, gun loops, heavily corbelled cornice for a parapet walk over the stair tower and corbelled angle on the south side.
Although a later house and driveway have been constructed to the west and north of the tower, there is no evidence for substantial excavation or disturbance inside the tower or on several other areas surrounding it. Therefore there is high potential for the survival of structural remains and archaeological deposits within, beneath and around the upstanding remains and on the terrace to the east of the castle. The deposits might include occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal and pollen. Such buried remains can tell us about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, and about land use and environment.
The precise date of construction of the existing tower is currently unclear. A charter of 1553 records the presence of a tower at Creich in 1553, but the architectural style of the tower suggests a later date of construction or alteration. There is also a documentary reference to a "Creich Castle" in the 13th century, although it is unclear how this relates to the surviving remains. Systematic investigation of the upstanding and buried remains can therefore enhance our understanding about the date, construction, form and layout of the castle and how this evolved over a long period of time.
Creich Castle is located around 1.7km to the south of the Tay estuary, surrounded today by higher ground on all sides. This might indicate a slightly unusual location for a defensible structure. However, the low ground immediately surrounding the castle was formerly marshland, and a surviving part of this marsh can be seen to the east of the tower itself. In addition to the tower house itself, a small tower associated with a gatehouse (LB2141) and barmkin (a defensive enclosure), a well (now covered over) and an 18th century doocot (LB2173) also survive on the site, adding to the significance of the tower house.
Tower houses are a widespread but diverse class of monument across Scotland. They became a popular form of residence with the Scottish nobility and lairdly class during the 14th century perhaps influenced by David II building a tower house at Edinburgh Castle. Towers houses continued to be the chosen architectural form for the residences of Scottish elites throughout the late medieval and early post-medieval periods. Tower houses provided a degree of security but were also a means of displaying wealth and social status.
Other examples of tower houses in Fife are Balwearie Tower (listed building reference LB45456, Canmore ID 52922), Scotstarvit Tower (scheduled monument reference SM90274, Canmore ID 31509) and Lordscairnie Castle (scheduled monument reference SM859, Canmore ID 31434). The proximity of these monuments can give important insights into the late medieval landscape and add to our understanding of social organisation, settlement hierarchy and land-use. Creich Castle has the potential to broaden our understanding of the nature and chronology of late medieval/early modern defensible houses, and their place within the landscape of Fife.
The first recorded owners of the lands at Creich are the Macduff Earls of Fife, and it is likely they built the 13th-century castle which is recorded. The land was subsequently owned by the Liddels, but their claim was forfeited when they were charged with treason. In 1502, Creich was purchased by the Beaton family, and it is likely that they built the castle that survives today.
Statement of National Importance
This monument is of national importance because it can make a significant addition to our understanding of the date, construction, use and development of tower houses. It is an impressive monument that retains architectural and structural features, including window and door frames, gun loops and corbelling. There is high potential for the preservation of buried features and deposits, including structural and architectural remains relating to other parts of the castle. The tower house makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and would have been a prominent part of the historic landscape. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the character and development of tower houses and ancillary structures. It would reduce our ability to understand the structure and organisation of society and economy during the late medieval and early post-medieval periods.