Ancient Monuments

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Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar,tower

A Scheduled Monument in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Latitude: 56.6915 / 56°41'29"N

Longitude: -6.1281 / 6°7'41"W

OS Eastings: 147332

OS Northings: 763143

OS Grid: NM473631

Mapcode National: GBR CC71.5TV

Mapcode Global: WGZCR.V21K

Entry Name: Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar,tower

Scheduled Date: 31 December 1992

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5512

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: tower

Location: Ardnamurchan

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument consists of the remains of Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar, a small watch-tower of sixteenth or seventeenth-century date situated on a small rocky knoll on the NW foreshore of Kilchoan Bay. In 1838 it was described as "Castial due nan Clior" which means "the black Castle of the Minstrels". The tower, overlooking the Sound of Mull, was part of the outlying defences of Mingary Castle.

Its function was to protect the anchorage in Kilchoan Bay. The original form of the tower is uncertain due to the fragmentary nature of the remains; presumably it had a rectilinear ground-plan, a vaulted ground floor and an upper storey. The building is made of random rubble bound with coarse lime mortar.

It measures 5.5m NW-SE by 4.6m transversely. Beneath the SW portion of the tower a chamber has been formed incorporating an overhanging section of rock with walls on three sides. This chamber measures 3.1m by 2.2m. The roof, which has collapsed, was constructed of rough slab lintels supported on corbel courses. The entrance doorway is now destroyed and a lot of the stone has been robbed and used in modern enclosure walls to the E.

The area to be scheduled is rectangular, measuring a maximum of 30m E-W, by 20m N-S, to be centred on the tower and including an area surrounding the monument which is likely to contain underlying archaeological deposits, as indicated in red on the attached map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as an example, albeit fragmented, of a late medieval tower, and as part of the strategic defences of Mingary Castle (13th century and later). The precise nature of the tower's chronology and function relative to Mingary may be accessible through a combination of research and excavation.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NM 46 SE 2 and NM 56 SW 1.


RCAHMS 1980, Inventory for Argyll 3, 190, No. 336.

RCAHMS 1980, Inventory for Argyll 3, 209-217.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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