Old Keiss Castle, Caithness, Scotland


Continuing on our journey from John O’Groats to Wick in Scotland on our 2014 holiday, we were passing plenty of castles…..but no time to stop.  After passing Freswick Castle, in the distance across the fields there are the remains of a castle, perched on the cliff edge, Keiss Castle.  Unfortunately erosion by the sea has caused a section of the cliff to fall into the sea, taking a large section of the building with it, now leaving a romantic ruins, but for how long, is anyones guess before it follows the rest into the sea.

A little history for you…..George, the 5th Earl of Caithness in the late 16th early 17th Century, built Keiss, the exact year of its construction not being known. It was reputedly built upon the site of an earlier fort called “Raddar” but nothing of this now remains. The castle stood four stories in height plus an attic. Unfortunately the NE angle of the tower, which contained the entrance is gone, as have the upper floors. According to the Rev John Brand the castle was ruinous in 1700, but in 1726 it seems to have been in repair with “at the side of it a convenient house lately built.  In the 18th century Keiss passed to the Sinclairs of Dunbeath, who built a new Keiss Castle further inland. Though the new building glories in the name ‘castle’, it is really a large and elegant Scottish Baronial house. The original castle was abandoned by 1755.  The new Keiss Castle is a private home and you can see the distance that they built it away from the old castle in one of the photos.

The following post will be about the new castle.







June 2014


    1. The view from the beach of the castle is the best one, but we didn’t stop and I guess we will never pass that way again, unless we go to Orkney, which I would love to do. 🙂

      1. Seafield Castle is now in a beautiful location, of course it used to be on the edge of the massive Seafield Colliery! I’m not sure what is being done, if anything, to preserve it, every time I go down, it seems like a wee bit more has fallen down 😦

      2. I will have to google about the colliery, I suppose its all gone now. Shame they are not consolidating the castle, need to get there while there is still some left 😦

      3. Aye……the colliery has completely gone, it’s now a very new housing scheme. The only evidence of a coal mine left, is the jetty where I guess coal ships were loaded, and on the beach there are the remnants of old concrete street lights (which I thought very odd when I first saw them, that was before I realised why I recognised the name of Seafield).
        If you do make it out to Seafield Castle, if you go to the eastern end of Kirkcaldy, you can also visit Ravenscraig Castle 🙂

  1. In days of old the father kept his son imprisoned here due to some bad misdemeanour, fed him only salt beef and gave him no water…the results were inevitable and he met a grisly death.

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