16th century
Z-plan tower


ND 355 617
nr. Sinclair Bay
1m n or Keiss village


private site




Keiss Castle

I was charmed by this little castle on our last trip, even though we only saw it from a distance, and I really, really wanted to visit it this time around. It's on the estate of the much later Keiss House, and the closes I could come was to walk along the cliff edge to the south and take some pictures. I couldn't get all the way over (and it started to rain in earnest), but here are a view snots (sorry they're all from the same angle).

The ruin is very dangerous, and should be approached with great care.

the ruined towerhouse at Kiess

16th century tower

This is a tall, thin tower - quite small -- and stands on the very edge of the cliffs over the sea. Substantial portions of the castle have fallen into the ocean.

The tower hsa three stories and an attic, and is the classic Z-plan: a main tower block with round towers on opposite corners. One is a stair tower, and has a square caphouse. The towers are only 3.5m in diamter, and the main block was only 7.2m x 8m - much smaller than many other examples of 16th century tower houses.

The walls of the caslt are not very thick, perhaps because the castle needed to be defended from only one side. THere are shotholes and tiny windows, all indicative of a defensive design. But the towers both face towards the sea, which means they could not be used to defend the landward side of the castle with flanking fire.

The entrance was on the slightly flattened side of the southwest tower, to the stairs that led up to the upper floors. A turret stair leads to the two rooms over the main stair. The other tower is entirely round and contains a vaulted cellar and three bedrooms. The views must have been spectacular.

I tried to find a wya down to the cliffside, but didn't want to risk it

The floorplan of the castle is a surprising collection of round shapes - most castle have a round tower and bartizans or two, but they feel strongly rectilinear, and the dominant main tower makes the towers feel massive. Keiss is almost airy, perhaps becuase it is so small.


The Sinclairs have owned the lands here since 1681, when they recovered the lands from the Campells. WHen the new Castle was built in 1755, the old castle was abandoned.

a slightly more zoomed image of the castle

the nearby modern house