MHG5 - Tower House, Caisteal Dubh Nan Cliar


The scheduled remains of a C16-C17 tower house or watch tower in Ardnamurchan.

Type and Period (2)

  • TOWER HOUSE? (Built, 16th Century to 17th Century - 1501 AD to 1700 AD)
  • WATCH TOWER (Built, 16th Century to 17th Century - 1501 AD to 1700 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

In 1838 (NSA 1845) it was described as 'the remains of a very small tower, dignified by the name of "Castial due nan Clior", the black Castle of the Minstrels'. <1>

‘Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (site of)' marked on 1st Edition 6” OS map of 1875 and 'Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (NR) (Remains of)' on 2nd Edition OS map of 1902. <2> <3>

Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (name confirmed locally) is of uncertain purpose, but it is probably a fisherman's hut or store of no great age, as the adjacent gully is entirely suited as a boat noost. Surveyed at 1:2500. <4>

Visited by OS (N K B) 5 June 1970.

Visited by RCHMAS 1971. Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar: This building occupies the summit of a small rocky knoll immediately above the NW foreshore of Kilchoan Bay. The structure is now extremely ruinous and its original form is uncertain, but it probably comprised a small two-storeyed tower of irregular plan measuring about 5.5m from NW to SE by 4.6m transversely. Beneath the SW portion of the tower a chamber has been formed by enclosing an overhanging lip of rock with a wall of masonry on three sides. This chamber measures about 3.1m by 2.2m and the roof, which comprises slab-lintels supported on corbel-courses, rises to a height of about 1.8m. In the SE wall there are the remains of a rebated entrance-doorway, which appears to have been secured by a draw-bar. All the masonry is of random rubble bound together by coarse lime-mortar. The age of this building is uncertain, but it may tentatively be ascribed to the 16th or 17th century. It seems too small to have been a permanent residence, and it is possible that it served as an outpost of Mingary Castle, (NM56SW 1) securing the anchorage in Kilchoan Bay. <5>

The monument was scheduled 31.12.1992.

The chamber beneath the SW portion of the tower is still extant, including fragments of masonry walls on the NW and SW sides. The roof of slab-lintels, supported on corbel courses, also survives but the remains of a rebated entrance-doorway in the SE wall, recorded by the RCAHMS, have collapsed. A fragment of mortared masonry lies on its side on the SE side. <6>

The structure is ascribed to the 16th century by Mary Miers in her illustrated architectural guide to the Western Seaboard. <7>

Sources/Archives (7)



Grid reference Centred NM 47332 63142 (30m by 20m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NM46SE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

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External Links (2)

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