Image copyright AOC Archaeology
The fact that there was a castle at Tarradale in the 13th and early 14th centuries is known from documentary sources. According the Wardlaw Manuscript, in continued efforts of pacification, Edward’s forces destroyed the forts of Inverness, Beufort and Dinguall in 1303; while Tarradale was also captured and given to Edward’s ally Alexander Comyn. The Tarradale site was later recaptured, supposedly destroyed, by Robert the Bruce in 1308.
The precise location of the castle has however proved more difficult to pin down. Field walking and metal detecting have discovered a concentration of medieval pottery that suggests that the motte of the castle may lie on a raised beach immediately southeast of Tarradale house, with a steep slope to the south serving as a defensive feature. Other finds have included large nails, a number of 13th century silver pennies and a horse harness pendant of the de Verdon family.
Tarradale Through Time believes that a bailey associated with the motte lies on the lower raised beach just below the steep abandoned shoreline. A 2015 magnetometer survey of the site by Oskar Sveinbjarnarson (University of Aberdeen) identified potential evidence for buried archaeology on this site, including a potential ditch or bank enclosing a central feature where the motte is believed to be. It is hoped that the September 2017 excavation will confirm the existance of these features.
Illustration by Pat Haynes