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Record details

Type of record:Monument
Name:Mingary Castle - Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan


A C13 great enclosure castle on the Ardnamurchan coast at Kilchoan Bay. It was surrounded by water on three sides and associated with the MacIan family.


Mingary Castle from East (photo by Highland Regional Council)  © Highland CouncilOld Council listed building record (for up to date description see link to Historic Scotland's website)  © Highland CouncilMingary Castle, Interior (photo by Highland Regional Council)  © Highland CouncilMingary castle, Interior (photo by Highland Regional Council)  © Highland Council(photo by Andrew Taylor)  © Andrew TaylorMingarry Castle (photo by Andrew Taylor)  © Andrew TaylorMingarry Castle (photo by Andrew Taylor)  © Andrew TaylorMingary castle, general view (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilMingary castle interior (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilMingary castle, view from south-west (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilMingarry castle, interior (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilMingary castle, interior (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilMingary castle, interior view (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilMingary castle, interior view (photo by Highland Council)  © Highland CouncilReconstruction drawing of Mingary castle (photo by A Spratt)  © A Spratt


Colour photograph  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 403 KB)Colour photograph  © Please contact Highland Council for details (File size: 3024 KB)Fieldwork report  © Addyman Archaeology (File size: 2124 KB)
Grid Reference:NM 5027 6311
Map Sheet:NM56SW
Geographical Area:LOCHABER

Monument Types

  • CASTLE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)
Protected Status:Listed Building (A) 527: Kilchoan, Mingary Castle; Scheduled Monument 296: Mingary Castle, Kilchoan

Other References/Statuses

  • Historic Environment Record: MHG454
  • NMRS NUMLINK Reference: 22355
  • NMRS Record Details: NM56SW1.0 MINGARY CASTLE
  • Non-Statutory Register (V)
  • Old SMR Reference Number: NM56SW0001

Full description

Mingary Castle (NR)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1974)

Mingary Castle occupies a strategically important site on a sea-girt promontory of rock about 2km SE of Kilchoan. It comprises a curtain-wall of irregular hexagon plan enclosing a courtyard which measures about 19.7m from N to S by 17.9m transversely. Within the curtain-wall there stand three ranges of buildings, occupying the N, W and SE sides of the courtyard respectively, while entrance- doorways pierce the NW and S sections of the curtain at ground-floor level. A stone forestair rises within the NW corner of the courtyard to give access to a battlemented parapet-walk. On its three landward sides the curtain-wall has a width of 2.7m and a height of 14.0m, but on the remaining sides it has a width of only 1.8m and a height of about 8.5m. The main body of the curtain-wall can be ascribed to the 13th century. The NW entrance-doorway, although subsequently altered, evidently belongs to the same period, while there is also evidence for the former existence of a contemporary range of domestic buildings occupying the N side of the courtyard. There is nothing to suggest that any major alteration was made to the castle during the medieval period, but towards the end of the 16th century the upper part of the curtain-wall was remodelled, and a sea-gate was constructed, or reconstructed, in the S curtain-wall. During the 17th century, further modifications were made to the NNW and W sections of the parapet-walk, and probably also to the NW entrance-doorway. There is no evidence to indicate what alterations, if any, were made to the courtyard buildings before about 1700. At some time during the early 18th century, however, new buildings were erected on the N and W sides of the courtyard, the N range being a substantial four-storeyed block, while the W range took the form of a lean-to structure of two main storeys, possibly incorporating a kitchen. At a somewhat later date within the 18th century another single- storeyed lean-to building was constructed on the SE side of the courtyard, and a number of minor alterations were carried out to the early 18th-century N range.
The landward side of the promontory on which the castle is situated is crossed by a formidable barrier in the shape of an artificial rock-cut ditch some 7.5m in width and 3.0m in depth.
(The RCAHMS give a full architectural description and history of the castle.)
RCAHMS 1980, visited 1971.

As described and planned.
Visited by OS (N K B) 8 June 1970.

NMRS - 1 newspaper cutting, missing at time of upgrade 1.10.1996.

LOC Local Plan, Feb. 1991: P55/5.2.26. Visitor Facilities. The Council will consider the provision of improved parking, interpretation and walks at this site.
J Aitken : 05/06/01.

The castle was visited and photographed by a member of the Highland Regional Council in June 1990. <1> <2> <3> <4> <5> <6> <7> <8> <9> <10>

The castle was visited and photographed by Andrew Taylor in October 2007. <11> <12>

"Mingary Castle, from the 13th century. One of the great castles of enclosure on the Western Seaboard, built by a descendant of Somerled and, from the 14th century, stronghold of the MacIans of Ardnamurchan. Commanding the entrance to the Sound of Mull and Loch Sunart, Mingary stands atop a rocky outcrop, the shape of which dictates its irregular, hexagonal plan. Surrounded by sea on three sides, the castle is approached (originally by drawbridge, now via a late 18th-century stone causeway) across a rock-cut ditch, and entered through a much altered doorway on its north-west side. The curtain wall, which bears close resemblance to the of Tioram, was heightened and thickened on the northern (landward) side and the parapet defences remodelled when the castle was refortified in the late 16th century. The seagate postern also probably dates from this period. In the early 18th century, a three-storey and attic range reminiscient of Highland barracks like Bernera was constructed across the north side of the courtyard, replacing the earlier hall. Early pointed windows, garderobes, a mural chamber and stair were blocked and remodelled. Another Georgian range, probably incorporating a kitchen, was erected against the courtyard's west wall. Opposite this, a single storey lean-to building was put up in the later 18th century. Inaccesible owing to stuctural instability.

James IV came to Mingary castle twice in the 1490s, to receive the West Highland chiefs whose power he had suppressed. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Mingary was besieged and captured several times (notably in 1519 and 1644), the scene of many blood feuds between the Macdonalds, Macleans and Campbells as the MacIans' power waned. By 1626 the castle and the lands of Ardnamurchan were firmly in Campbell hands. Mingary was granted to Alexander Campbell of Lochnell in 1696, so it was presumably he or his son who carried out the early 18th century remodelling of the castle." <13>

An analytical and historical assessment of the ruins of the castle was carried out by Addyman Archaeology in 2012 in relation to on-going development to repair Mingary castle, and to rebuild the internal area to be used as for modern accommodation. <14>

A reconstruction drawing of Mingary Castle was drawn and submitted by A Spratt to the Highland HER in December 2012. <15>

RCAHMS, 1980, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 3: Mull, Tiree, Coll and Northern Argyll (excluding the early medieval and later monuments of Iona), 209-17; plans, illusts. (Text/Report). SHG2660.

Ritchie and Harman, J N G and M, 1985, Exploring Scotland's heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles, 84, no. 31 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG2708.

<1> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, general view (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG12520.

<2> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, interior (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG10237.

<3> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, long view from SW (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG10231.

<4> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, interior (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG10236.

<5> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, interior (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG10235.

<6> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, interior (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG10230.

<7> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG10234.

<8> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle from East (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG8792.

<9> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary Castle, Interior (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG8798.

<10> Highland Council, 1990, Mingary castle, Interior (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG8809.

<11> Taylor, A, 2007-9, Photographs of various HER sites by Andrew Taylor (CD 1) (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG24382.

<12> Taylor, A, 02/2010, A Collection of Highland Buildings and Monuments (Image/Photograph(s)). SHG25366.

<13> Miers, M, 2008, The Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, 100-1, 106 (Text/Publication/Volume). SHG24310.

<14> Addyman, T & Oram, R, 2012, Mingary Castle, Ardnamurchan, Argyll: Analytical and Historical Assessment (Text/Report/Fieldwork Report). SHG26198.

<15> Spratt, A, 2012, Reconstruction drawing of Mingary Castle (Image/Drawing/Reconstruction Drawing). SHG26517.

Related Monument/Building records - none

Related Investigations

EHG4047DBA - Mingary Castle, Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan

Related documents/files/web pages

Conservation Areas
Listed Buildings
Scheduled Ancient Monuments
Designed Landscapes
Registered Battlefields
Marine Protected Areas