Scheduled Monument

Dooket Hill, motte and doocot, AuldearnSM9293

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Secular: doocote, dovecote, pigeon loft; motte
Local Authority
NH 91715 55626
291715, 855626


The monument consists of the remains of an earth and timber castle situated on the NW edge of the village of Auldearn. The earthwork is surmounted by a 17th century Doocot.

The castle is associated with William the Lion (1165-1214) and is believed to have been a royal castle, although the evidence is slight. King William signed the second burgh charter of Inverness at Auldearn some time after 1180 and the Earl of Ross submitted to Robert the Bruce there in 1308.

The remains of the earth and timber castle consist of a motte. It measures 59.0m in diameter externally by 8.0m high. The flat central area enclosed by a rampart, measures 32.0m E-W by 27.0m transversely, in the centre of which is a 17th century dovecot. No traces of outer defences can be identified although the traces of a ditch could apparently be identified earlier this century. The motte is associated with the burgh of Auldearn, which also was first mentioned in the reign of William the Lion.

An evaluation on a site immediately to the SW of the motte revealed several isolated pits and gullies, which may be associated with the occupation or construction of the motte. A large ditch oriented SE-NW was located on the SE edge of the evaluation area, perhaps representing the remains of the outer defences of the motte, but was not identified elsewhere.

The area to be scheduled includes the motte and an area around it which archaeological evaluation has shown has the potential for associated archaeology. The area to be scheduled has maximum dimensions of about 98m N-S and 79m transversely. The eastern boundary consists of the masonry retaining wall of the motte and runs along the exterior of boundary fences of Numbers 12 and 14 Doocot road.

The boundary fences are themselves excluded from the scheduling. The N, S and W boundary of the scheduled area lies 20m from the base of the motte. The doocot is also included in the schedule.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved motte. The archaeology of this monument has the potential greatly to increase our knowledge about the construction techniques, defences and domestic life of such early castles. The association of the motte with the burgh of Auldearn and the medieval church lying 190m ESE may inform about the nature of the feudalisation of Scotland.



RCAHMS records the monument as NH 95 NW 11 and NH 95 NW 8.


Glendinning, B. (1999) 'Dooket Hill Motte (Auldearn parish), evaluation', Discovery and Excavation, Scotland, 52.

Yeoman, P. A. (1988) 'Mottes in Northeast Scotland', Scot Archaeol Rev, 5, 1988, 131, no. 72.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. 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

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Printed: 18/03/2019 22:03