MHG16751 - Kinlochaline Castle


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Type and Period (1)

  • CASTLE (Medieval to 21st Century - 1058 AD to 2100 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

NM64NE 3 6975 4763.
Kinlochaline Castle (NR) OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

Kinlochaline Castle: This tower-house occupies N end of a rocky ridge, situated immediately W of point where the River Aline flows into Loch Aline. The original building, probably of 15th century date, was extensively remodelled in the late 16th or early 17th century. It was involved in the warfare between MacLeans and Campbells during the last quarter of the 17th century, and has remained unoccupied since that period. By the middle of the 19th century it was in a state of extreme dilapidation, and an unsympathetic restoration of the masonry was undertaken about 1890, when new floors and a metal roof were fitted. The tower contains three storeys, all originally unvaulted, and measures 13.2m from N to S by 10.5m transversely over walls varying in thickness from 2.5m to 2.8m. It is constructed of rubble masonry; most of the freestone dressings, having been robbed, were replaced by rubble in the late 19th century restoration. The internal masonry of the castle, including that of the second period of construction, shows marks of burning.
The external appearance of the tower is plain, an effect increased by the excessive size of the window-openings as repaired in the late 19th century. In the original arrangement there were separate entrances to the ground and first floors, both in the S wall; the former was blocked up in the second period, and this blocking was renewed in the restoration. Above the entrance there projects a box-machicolation supported on two massive corbels, probably of 15th century date but in re-use. This feature was completely rebuilt in the 19th century, when extensive restoration was also carried out at parapet-walk level. (Full architectural description and history given by the RCAHMS {1980}).
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; RCAHMS 1980, visited 1972.

Kinlochaline Castle: as described.
Visited by OS (NKB) 11 June 1970.

In November 1997 an initial evaluation of the tower house was undertaken by GUARD prior to its restoration as a dwelling. To assess the survival of any archaeological remains a trench was hand-dug within each of the two cellars in the tower house and also externally in the areas of the proposed septic tank and access road. Rubble was encountered in both cellar trenches but this may originate from the remodelling of the tower in the 16th and 17th centuries. Midden material was encountered between two layers of rubble suggesting at least two stages of rubble deposition. No archaeological features were discovered in the external trenches. A complete photographic record of the tower house was also produced. <1>

NM 6975 4763 A watching brief was carried out in the castle grounds in Jan-Feb 1998 during work to make a new access road and dig a service trench up to the castle. This was in preparation for the castle being restored by its present owners into a dwelling. The access road leads from the side road between Ardtornish and the A884 to Lochaline. Service lines follow alongside the road, which terminates in a car park. The route of the new road follows, to a large extent, the route of an old track, disused but still visible as a grassy raised ridge. It runs across a level, wet area, W of the castle. The age of the track is unclear, but its eastern section appears on a local farming plan map of 1833 (Plan of the farms of Kinlochalin and Achaforse, 1833, in Ardtornish Archives) and the whole length is depicted on the OS 1st edition map of 1875 (surveyed 1872). The old track runs straight from the castle NW to the Ardtornish road, while the new road follows this for a stretch, but curves southwards to join the Ardtornish road at a more oblique angle. A new small car park was created at the SE end of the access road at the foot of the rocky knoll, apon which the castle stands. The old track continued around the N side of the castle. The service lines largely follow the access road on its northern side, but take a more direct route to the Ardtornish road at the NW end. Little archaeological material was found during the construction work. A small area of burning, 0.2m below the surface, was noted during the construction of the car park. A large number of roofing slates were also uncovered. They are thought to date to the late 16th-early 17th century rebuilding of the castle. Almost all are the locally-derived grey Ballachulish slate, but there is at least one example of green Cumbrian slate. <2>

The castle was converted into a dwelling house in 1998. The two main halls on first and second floors were retained and a two-storey timber-framed garret was built within the parapet walk. The whole structure was then rendered with a traditional lime harl. During renovation work a previously unrecorded pit prison was discovered, contained within E wall at ground floor level. The slightly trapezoidal chamber measures 2.41m long on W side and 2.32m on E side by 0.82m wide and 2.20m high. It is roofed with three large flat slabs and entered by a trap door, 0.46m by 0.70m, through the floor of the guard room on the first floor. The interior of the chamber was completely clean but roots and remains of vegetation at the lowest level suggest that at one time the pit was filled with detritus. This was presumably cleaned out during the previous renovation in 1890’s, after which the floor of the guard room was then sealed with a thin layer of concrete.
Field Verification Project (West Lochaber) - J Robertson, 03/2004

Sources/Archives (86)



Grid reference Centred NM 6975 4763 (300m by 300m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NM64NE
Civil Parish MORVERN
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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