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Clan Seats of Scotland – Clan MacKenzie – Redcastle – Scotcrest Blog

Redcastle, Killearnan – Clan MacKenzie

redcastle clan mackenzie

Now left in a partially ruinous state, Redcastle has endured a tumultuous history since its construction at the end of the 12th century.

Originally built by King William the Lion as a reaction to unrest and rebellion in the highlands, the structure was built alongside another fortification at Dunskaith as the King struggled to gain control of the far north of his country. The castle would serve as a stronghold to help keep warring clans at arms’ length and would also protect the region from an invasion by sea thanks to its close proximity to the Beauly Firth.

The first documented resident of Redcastle would be Sir John de Bisset and the Bissets would stay in control of the property in some form until the turn of the 14th century when it would become a part of the powerful Douglas dynasty. The ownership would then pass back to the crown within half a century after the defeat of the family in 1455.

The next 40 years remain a mystery but we do know that the next residents of the castle would also be its most famous, the MacKenzies. First to move in was Kenneth MacKenzie of Kintail in 1492 and as the MacKenzies began to rise in stature over the subsequent years, so too did the castle, with the reigning monarch, Mary, Queen of Scots, stayed at the property in 1552.

The MacKenzies would stay in control of the castle for the next two centuries as it survived numerous wars thanks to its northern location within the British Isles. In fact, so far away from London was the castle that it would be the last place in Scotland to hold out against the troops of Olver Cromwell in 1649.

Sometime thereafter, It is said that the castle was burned down (perhaps by Cromwell’s forces) but did continue to be inhabited well into the 1700s with Bonnie Prince Charlie believed to have stayed there in 1745 during the last Jacobite Rising.

After this, the castle’s history becomes a bit more dismal as, despite improvements in the 19th century, it was soon sold to owners that did not have its best intentions at heart. The deterioration of the building would continue all the way through to the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the army, something that would accelerate its demise even further with the final nail in the coffin coming when an owner decided to remove the castle’s roof in an effort to avoid paying taxes.

Today, the ruins of the once-proud structure remain on the edge of the highland village of Killearnan. This castle can still be visited by the public and, despite being in a state of disrepair, it is still a category B listed building.

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Learn more about this history of Clan MacKenzie HERE.