Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Killernie Castle demolished over ‘safety concerns’

The remains of 16th century Killernie Castle near Saline in Fife, have been 'knocked down' by their owner due to safety concerns despite attempts to enforce legislation to protect the ruins.

The local – and now wider – community have expressed their dismay arguing that erecting a fence around the ruins could have alleviated any safety concerns while preserving the building.

LEFT: Killernie Castle before demolition – with twin flanking round towers
RIGHT: After demolition – with one solitary tower

Fife Council Service Manager, Bill Lindsay, stated: "This case has highlighted weaknesses in the current legislation in that the owner was able to demolish the castle before the appropriate protection could be put in place – we are deeply disappointed in the owner’s actions."

Belatedly, Killernie has been designated a scheduled monument following a consultation with the owner, the local authority and the community.

Scheduling ‘identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments of national importance’.

Historic Environment Scotland have said they are continuing to engage with Killernie's owner regarding the management of the site.

Killernie – a Z-Plan castle at its roots

Tower Houses found throughout Scotland are generally rectangular or L-planned but Killernie comprises the remains of a small Z-plan tower house with circular towers at diagonally opposite corners – not unlike the contemporary castle of Claypotts in Dundee.

Killernie's towers, dated 1592, are equipped with wide-mouth gun-loops attached to a vaulted rectangular main block. Only the lower courses survive as the upper levels were robbed for their building stone.

Claypotts Castle – a Killernie 'lookalike'

In 1642 the castle was referred to as Killerny but it was not the first building on the site. Records from the 14th century refer to it as ‘castilsted’ i.e. fortified, so we would expect to find the remains of an earlier castle below the present.

Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.

Photographs by Scottish Castles Association member John Pringle.

Added: 09 Oct 2020 Updated: 19 Nov 2020
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