Altyre Castle

Altyre Castle Details

Altyre Castle, C13 motte of the Comyns abandoned C15, adjacent to ruined C12/13 chapel; ?site of later tower house

  • Closest To: Forres
  • Access: S.O.A.C. Public Access
  • Grid Reference: NJ035553

Altyre Castle is a large motte next to the Altyre Burn lying to the south of Forres within an estate, but historically was part of the extensive royal forest in the area. Next to the motte is the ruin of a 13th century chapel and burial ground, indicating that the two formed part of a nucleic manorial centre.

The mound is overgrown with trees, and the summit has some evidence of a perimeter wall, although it is too ruined to be datable and is probably post-medieval. The track winding around to the summit is blocked by shrubbery in places, and the best way to reach the summit is up the sides near the chapel. There is some evidence that it used to be provided with a ditch that may at one point have been supplied with water by the burn.

Altyre was a property of the Comyn family in 1368, when Richard Comyn of Altyre held they position of keeper of the royal forest of Darnaway for David II. Traditionally it is supposed to have been granted to the Comyns in the reign of Alexander III, although there is no contemporary evidence to support this assertion, just references to the family being “of Altyre” when they held lands in Strathdallas. When Richard was asked to leave Darnaway, it is likely that he was forced to erect a residence at Altyre, or at Dallas and may have been compensated for this. A tower at Altyre survived into the 16th century, by which time the milltoun of the same name had developed into a modest settlement, but was perhaps destroyed by the Brodies in their feud. The fate of the tower is unknown. Today the castle site can be reached on foot via footpaths and a short walk through woodlands on the estate.

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