Forse Castle ruins dates from c. 1200 in the hamlet of Forse. The castle stands on a peninsula about 50 metres above sea level. It is surrounded on all sides by steep rocks and is cut off from the mainland by a natural ditch at the neck of the peninsula. Forse Castle was the stronghold of the Sutherland of Forse family, a cadet branch of the Clan Sutherland. They lived in it until around 1600.



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Highland, United Kingdom
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Founded: c. 1200
Category: Ruins in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Alex Eu (9 months ago)
Nice place to visit about 10 minute walk from keiss harbor where you can leave your car
Ryan Owen (9 months ago)
I have great memories of camping here on the final night of my walk from Land's End to John o' Groats. It's incredible how they built this castle on the edge of a cliff all of those centuries ago.
Lorraine Mackay (20 months ago)
Nice walk to the castle. Stunning views.
Shannon Houston (2 years ago)
We parked at the Keiss Harbour and walked to the Castle. The walk was around 10-15mins but very muddy and animal poo everywhere which kind of dampened the experience. Also couldn’t get close to the Castle, but it worth seeing if you like Castles. Impressive how close to the cliff they built!
Tim Scott (2 years ago)
To access: drive to Keiss Harbour. There is a track to the north east following above the beach. About a 15 min walk to the ruins. You pass a few bunkers on the way. And if you're out there after dark like we were, look out to your left to see the lighthouse near castle Sinclair flashing
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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.