MHG12103 - Ardvreck Castle


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Type and Period (2)

  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1058 AD to 1559 AD)
  • WALLED GARDEN? (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

NC22SW 2 2398 2363.
Ardvreck Castle (NR) (remains of) OS 6"map, (1967)

Ardvreck Castle, now in a ruinous state, is situated on N side of Loch Assynt, on neck of a long rocky peninsula. Fo residence of Neil Macleod, Laird of Assynt, it is said to have been built towards end of C16, and place to which Marquis of Montrose was taken in 1650.
It has been a simple rectangular keep with a round staircase tower at SE angle, corbelled out on upper floors to form square rooms, small stair turret to these upper rooms being carried on corbelling in re-entrant angle. Ground floor was divided into 3 compartments, all vaulted, and there seems to have been 4 floors, first of which is also vaulted, remainder simply joisted.
The remains are fragmentary; N wall has entirely disappeared and much of E & W walls also.
Visited by OS (C W) 8 September 1960; RCAHMS 1911; D MacGibbon and D Ross 1889. <1> <2>

The castle was scheduled in 1936.

Generally as described above. No trace of N wall remains. Lying in one of the ground floor compartments are 2 iron cannons without carriages. No date stone could be found, only inscription being date 1515 marked on some modern cement facing. S & E of castle is a level platform with traces of stone walling, poss representing remains of an outer court. Extending from SW corner of keep are traces of a wall running in SSW direction, but foundation is narrow and it may be modern. About 90m SSW of keep is a rectangular building foundation ('A'). The walls are almost completely grassed-over but appear to have been of considerable thickness. On W edge of promontory is rectilinear enclosure bounded by foundations of stone wall. The promontory is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of sand. Visited by OS (R D L) 22 May 1962.

The line of rampart and ditch to landward of castle can be traced across neck of peninsula just within the modern stone dyke.
To NNW of castle remains of wall run to flat saddle-area between two hills. This area has been walled to form a rectangular yard.
To S of castle on very point of peninsula stands a long, semi-rectangular structure ('A' of the field report). It is divided into two compartments one c9' long, other 24' to 30'. S end is distinctly rounded.
D J R le Noble 1969. <3>

The castle was listed at Category B in 1971.

"Ardvreck Castle" is generally as described. The line of rampart noted by Noble is most easterly one surveyed by OS field surveyor (RDL). No definite sign of a ditch fronting it though a modern causewayed approach perhaps gives effect of one. The building to S of castle appears to be a barn and kiln of uncertain date although it is possible both it and rectinlinear enclosure are contemporary with castle. It seems likely wall to S & E of castle represents a contemporary forecourt, and remains of another strong wall to N, now mainly under water, may also be same period. The iron cannons are now preserved at Lochinver.
Visited by OS (J M) 15 August 1974

The scheduling was reviewed and amended by Historic Scotland in 1996 to include the whole of the peninsula.

NW SUT Local Plan, May 1987: P 23/2.36.
J Aitken : 11/06/01.

Castle repairs recently completed on behalf of Historic Assynt. Janet Hooper the project architect has been recording the work. Photos - HAW 11/2004

Surveyed by the Assynt's Hidden Lives project in November 2009. The remains of Ardvreck Castle are located on a rocky promontory in Loch Assynt. The surviving walls of the rectangular keep structure measure approximately 12m by 10m, aligned E/W; the north wall does not survive. There are two well preserved stone arches in the surviving walls, both with very low doors through to the south. Joist holes are visible indicating the positions of internal floor levels; it is thought that there were four floors in the building. There is a round round stair tower on the south-east corner, now squared off towards the top half, which gave access to the upper floors. Traces of a possible wall running from the south-west corner in a south-south-west direction are now only visible as a turf covered bank with occasional stones. The remains of a rampart and possible ditch enclosing the castle are visible running across the neck of the promontory. A seat of the Macleods, Ardvreck Castle is thought to have been orignially constructed in the late 15th century as a relatively modest tower house, developing later in the 16th century into the castle visible today.

A grassed over rectilinear stone walled enclosure with walls up to 1m wide, centred on NC 2392 2361, was also identified during the survey. It is aligned NW/SE and sits on the banks of the Loch Assynt and less than 100m north of Ardvreck Castle itself. The enclosure is thought to have been a walled garden. <4>

The building was de-listed in May 2015 as part of a Historic Scotland project looking at dual designations of castles in the Highlands. It remains a scheduled monument. <5>

Photographs of the castle were submitted to the HER by K Crawford in 2023. <6>

Sources/Archives (31)



Grid reference Centred NC 2397 2365 (300m by 300m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NC22SW
Geographical Area SUTHERLAND
Civil Parish ASSYNT

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