Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Redcastle still on Buildings at Risk Register

Redcastle stands near Muir of Ord in the north east Highlands. It is so named because of its sandstone. It is listed category B but in a state of serious disrepair.

Redcastle southeast

Redcastle from the south east with 1641 work on right

During the war it was occupied by the RAF after which, being riddled with dry rot, it was gutted and abandoned. The roof collapsed and the interior left open to the sky.

The state of Redcastle was a cause of concern. In 1986 it was reported as 'derelict with piles holding up sections of the stonework'.

Investigations in 2012 and 2013 found further deterioration with cracks and loss of masonry. Dangerous building notices were posted and the site fenced off with barbed wire.

Redcastle plan

Redcastle plan

Highland Council have pressed for its sale and restoration but nothing seems simple when castles are concerned and all schemes have come to nothing.

Redcastle has the reputation of an early foundation. William I (The Lion) and his brother David per-sonally led a mission against the Norse Earl of Orkney who was attempting to move south from Caithness. In 1179 they erected 2 castles one of which, Edradour, was probably the original Redcastle. They chose a strong site: a mound above a ravine. This would have been an earthwork, probably a motte or ringwork. At which date it changed name is unknown.

William's castle was followed by one of stone, parts of which could be incorporated in the western walling which is thicker and peculiarly angled. An intake of walling at a higher level might also indicate early work.

Redcastle stair corbel

LEFT: Redcastle stair tower with addition (note join)
RIGHT: Double corbel course on turrets on west gable

In the later 16th century Redcastle took the shape of an elongated L-plan tower house with a tall five-storey tower in the re-entrant. This finished in a balustraded viewing platform. Turrets, both round and square, provided with shot holes completed the picture. One should not forget, however, that such a rich and elaborate castle would have included a courtyard with outbuildings together with elaborate gardens and orchards.

In 1641, marked by a date stone, an extension was added to the east end and the castle reached its apogee.

Redcastle 1900

Redcastle circa 1900 with logia

Between 1840-43 the architect William Burn extended the castle. Burn was popular in his time but perhaps not so much today as can be witnessed by his clumsy work of 1836 at Inverness Castle.

Fortunately at Redcastle he was commission to extend and improve and not to re-build. He en-larged the windows and infilled the re-entrant (where the join is clearly visible). A notable addition was the logia (now removed) on the southern face.

Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle - thanks to member John Pringle for photographs

Added: 24 Jun 2015 Updated: 28 Mar 2018
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