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Ackergill Tower
Wick, Caithness, Scotland
Ackergill Tower
Type tower house with some extensions
Coordinates grid reference ND352546Coordinates: 58°28′29″N 3°06′46″W / 58.47480°N 3.11273°W / 58.47480; -3.11273
Built during the 1400s
Built by unknown member of the Clan Keith
Stone Cladding
In use 15th century to 21st century
Open to
the public

Ackergill Tower (or Ackergill Castle) is a Scottish castle located north of Wick, Caithness. It is a Category A listed building.[1]


Early history

Built in the 1400s by Clan Keith, Ackergill Tower is a five-story oblong tower house. The Keith clan, under John Keith, took the lands at Ackergill in 1354, and Ackergill Tower was likely built by his son.

The Sinclairs

In 1547, the Sinclairs of Sinclair & Girnigoe Castle attacked and seized the castle. Mary the Regent granted the Sinclairs remission for this, and returned Ackergill Tower to the Keiths, and later installed Lord Oliphant as keeper of Ackergill in 1549. The Sinclairs again captured the castle in 1556, for which they were again granted remission.

The Keiths

In 1593, Robert Keith, brother to the William Keith, 6th Earl Marischal (who rightfully owned the tower), seized Ackergill by force, for which he was declared a rebel, and the castle returned to the Earl.

In 1598, another Keith, one John Keith of Subster, attacked the tower in the dead of night, taking its occupants by surprise and capturing the place.

The Sinclairs, again

In 1612, the Sinclairs acquired Ackergill Tower once again, but through legal means, when it was sold to the Earl of Caithness by the Earl Marischal. However, by 1623 it was under assault once more, when it was besieged by Sir Robert Gordon during his feud with George Sinclair, 5th Earl of Caithness, but the Sinclairs surrendered the castle before any assault took place.

In 1651, Oliver Cromwell may have used Ackergill Castle to garrison his troops during his siege of the Keith's Dunnottar Castle, as he was hunting for the Honours of Scotland.

In 1676, John Campbell, 2nd Earl of Breadalbane and Holland took possession of Ackergill Tower in repayment of debts owed by the Sinclairs.

The Dunbars

John Campbell put Ackergill Tower up for sale in 1699, and it was bought by Sir William Dunbar of Hempriggs. The Dunbars began extensive renovations, including the addition of a lean-to-shaped extension to the tower and numerous other changes carried out by the architect David Bryce on behalf of George Sutherland Dunbar, 7th Lord Duffus. It remained in the hands of the Dunbars of Hempriggs until 1986, when it was sold.

The Castle today

The castle was purchased from the Dunbars in 1986, and underwent a two-year period of restoration work before opening as an exclusive hotel and business venue.

See also

  • Battle of Champions - Clan Keith massacred men from Clan Gunn at St Tears chapel, just east of the Tower, in 1478 or 1464


External links



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