MHG262 - Tower House, Caisteal nan Con


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Type and Period (2)

  • TOWER HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FORT? (Early Bronze Age to Pictish - 2400 BC? to 900 AD?)

Protected Status

Full Description

Caisteal nan Con (NR)
OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)
Known locally as the Castle of the Dogs, the tower-house has deteriorated considerably since it was described in 1972 and is in a highly dangerous condition (RCAHMS, 1980, 190-1) The SE gable wall is still more or less intact but much of the SW and NE sides has collapsed and little survives to second storey level. According to local opinion, the NE side has deteriorated particularly in the last few years. A deep crack in the masonry on the NE side suggests that another chunk of masonry will soon collapse. The rest of the building survives to first floor level, though with large gaps in the wall. The sandstone dressings around the second floor fireplace are still in situ. The circular stair-tower on the SW side, noted by RCAHMS, is now reduced to a semi-circular foundation, covered with rubble.

The fort is as described in 1972. (RCAHMS, 1980)
Field Verification Project (West Lochaber) - J Robertson, 03/2004
Caisteal nan Con: This 17th century building stands within the remains of a prehistoric fort (infra) on a promontory close to the E shore of the Sound of Mull. It comprises a rectangular block, measuring 18.1m from NW to SE by 7.3m transversely over walls 0.9m thick, constructed of rubble masonry, bonded in coarse lime mortar with many pinnings. The principal door- and window-dressings have been extensively robbed. Only the SE portion of the building is preserved to its full height of three storeys, the remainder standing to no more than first-floor level. The ground floor was divided into three rooms.
Adjacent to the NW wall of the castle there was an annexe or enclosure of irregular plan, now reduced to its foundations. Some 50m to the N, at the neck of the promontory, there are the remains of a dry-stone building measuring 9.1m by 6.1m over walls 0.9m thick. This may have been in use at the same period as the main building, as may have been a tidal fish-trap in the bay whose W side is formed by the promontory on which the castle stands.
Despite its traditional identification as a hunting-lodge associated with Aros Castle (NM54SE 1), a residence of the Lords of the Isles, there is no evidence of medieval occupation at this site. The lands of Killundine were specially excepted from the general grant of the MacLean of Duart estate in Morvern to tacksmen in 1637, but the existing building probably dates from the second half of the 17th century, and was perhaps erected by Allan M'Ean vic Ewin MacLean, who is on record as tacksman of Killundine in 1671 and 1675. It was probably derelict by about 1750, when it was indicated but not named on Roy's Map. (Gaskell (1968) states that it is also called Killundine Castle.)
The fort has been defended by two walls, the innermost of which encloses a roughly D-shaped area measuring about 50m by 20m. The wall has been severely robbed, and except on the W, where it appears as a low stony bank about 2m in average thickness, it has been reduced to an intermittent scatter of grass-covered debris in which the occasional stretch or individual stone of the outer face has survived in situ. At one point on the NE a a particularly well-preserved stretch has been re-used as the foundation of the wall of Caisteal nan Con. The entrance, 1.8m in width externally, is on the NW, the outer jambs being formed by two particularly massive blocks. Access to the summit may also be obtained at present by way of a narrow path at the SE end of the knoll, but this approach is probably of recent date, as is the grass-grown mound that partly overlies the line of the fort wall near the middle of the S side. On the date of visit much of the W half of the interior was obscured by thorn bushes, which appeared to mask the remains of a sub-circular enclosure of no great age.
The outer wall has been drawn across the level neck of the promontory at the foot of the knoll occupied by the main work and continued thence along the whole of its NE flank, following a natural crest-line. On the NW in particular the external face of the wall has incorporated boulders of considerable size, which, since most of the smaller facing stones and core-material have been robbed away, now survive as isolated blocks projecting from a light scatter of stony debris; for a distance of 15 m on the NNE the work has been reduced to a mere scarp, while further to the SE the surviving stones of the outer face are almost totally obscured by a mass of debris which has tumbled from the wall above. Immediately to the SW of the entrance, which is situated on the NW opposite that of the main enclosure, a short length has been obliterated by a sub-rectangular enclosure of no great age. The relatively low-lying position of the outer wall and the size of the material used in its construction are paralleled on several other defensive sites in North Argyll.
RCAHMS 1980; P Gaskell 1968.

The remains at this site were in a similar condition when seen in 1970. Surveyed at 1:10,000.
Visited by OS (A A) 15 June 1970.

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

This site was included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <1>

Sources/Archives (4)



Grid reference Centred NM 5839 4864 (40m by 40m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NM54NE
Civil Parish MORVERN
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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