Caisteal Bharraich

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Alternative Names Castle Varraich; Castle Bhurraich; Castle Varrich
Canmore ID 5314
Site Number NC55NE 1
NGR NC 5807 5674
Former Region HIGHLAND
Former District SUTHERLAND
Former County SUTHERLAND
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NC55NE 1 5807 5674.

(NC 5807 5674) Caisteal Bharraich (NR)
OS 6" map (1962)

Castle Varrich or Bhurraich: the shattered remains of a small roughly-built tower whose history is unknown although it is said to have belonged to the Bishop of Caithness who stayed here on his way from his castle at Scrabster (ND16NW 3) to his property of Balnakiel (NC36NE 4). It appears to have been a house rather than a tower and is probably of late date. It consisted of two storeys with an attic, and probably a parapet. The walls are 4ft 6ins thick and the ground floor was vaulted but the arch has now fallen in. The ground floor was probably used for cattle and horses since there is no stairway to the first floor which was probably reached by a ladder. It had only one apartment.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; RCAHMS 1911, visited 1909

Caisteal Bharraich, a sub-rectangular tower on a rocky knoll. It measures externally 7.5m along the south wall and 6.7m along the other three sides. The wall is 1.7m thick except in the NW corner where it is reduced to 1.4m and is bonded with shell mortar. There are suggestions that it is a possibly 16th century part-reconstruction of an earlier tower. To the north is a scarp showing traces of walling, which extend NW for 20m from a rock outcrop near the tower to the coastal cliff. Surveyed at 1:2500.
Visited by OS (JD) 25 April 1960 and (AA) 29 June 1971

No change to preceeding field report.
Visited by OS (JM) 30 August 1978

NC 58106 56777 Shell midden surveyed as part of survey in the Lochan Hakel area carried out by students from University of Aberdeen in July 2006.
J Kirby, D Marquardt, H MacFarlane and S Duthie 21 April 2007

Books and References

Coventry, M (2008) Castles of the Clans: the strongholds and seats of 750 Scottish families and clans, Musselburgh
Page(s): 43 Held at RCAHMS F.5.21.COV

Gunn and Mackay, A and J (eds.) (1897) Sutherland and the Reay country: history, antiquities, folklore, topographical, regiments, ecclesiastical records, poetry and music etc, Glasgow
Page(s): 27, 113 Held at RCAHMS D.6.5.GUN

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v Edinburgh
Page(s): Vol. 3, 253-6 plan Held at RCAHMS F.5.21.MAC

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Charity SC026749