Keiss Castle

Keiss Castle Details

Keiss Castle, ruined C17 tower house on clifftop site abandoned C18 for house of same name. Ruin has partially collapsed and is dangerous

  • Closest To: Keiss,Freswick,Wick
  • Access: S.O.A.C. Public Access
  • Grid Reference: ND356618

Keiss Castle is an often-photographed ruined towerhouse on a cliff-edge site a few miles north of Wick. The tower is fenced off for safety reasons, and seems to be very precariously sited due to erosion. Public access to the edge of the fence is straightforward along the foreshore, which also allows a visit to one of Caithness’s many ruined brochs.

The tower was originally rectangular with two round towers at diagonally opposing corners, but one corner of the tower has collapsed, giving a clear view inside. The entrance was at ground floor level, and the tower rises four storeys above the basement, with an attic above that. Parts of the cliff face have been reinforced with masonry, and there is evidence there may have once been a courtyard. The date of construction is not known, but the castle is probably 16th century in origin, and well established when it was first mentioned in 1623. It was probably erected by the fifth Sinclair earls of Caithness, and passed to his son in 1643. The cousin of the 6th earl was George Sinclair of Keiss, who successfully claimed the earldom in 1681, and died at Keiss in 1698. Soon afterwards the castle was in the hands of Campbell of Glenorchy, and in 1700 was in poor condition. Soon after 1726 it was abandoned for the new house which can be seen nearby.

HES Canmore database entry

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