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Caisteal Camus or Knock Castle, on site of Dun Horavaig

A Scheduled Monument in Eilean á Chèo, Highland

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Latitude: 57.1103 / 57°6'37"N

Longitude: -5.8473 / 5°50'50"W

OS Eastings: 167142

OS Northings: 808721

OS Grid: NG671087

Mapcode National: GBR C9YX.VV9

Mapcode Global: WGZ9S.4KV0

Entry Name: Caisteal Camus or Knock Castle, on site of Dun Horavaig

Scheduled Date: 19 December 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8480

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: dun (with post-prehistoric use)

Location: Sleat

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Eilean á Chèo

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument comprises Knock Castle, alternatively Caisteal Camus/Chamuis, which is medieval in date and is visible as an upstanding ruin, and is believed to overlie Dun Horavaig, alternatively, Dun Thorabhaig or Dun-Iain-Choinnich, an Iron Age dun. The monument is situated on a promontory at about 60m OD, overlooking Knock Bay to the SW and the Sound of Sleat to the NE, with the Allt Gleann Horavaig burn to the W and N.

There was a MacLeod castle here by 1402, when William, 4th Chief of the Macleods, died at Knock. The following decades were characterised by the Macleod-MacDonald conflict, and the inheritance of the Earldom of Ross by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles led to the MacLeods being forced out of Sleat. Knock was overrun by royal troops in 1431; it is next recorded in 1513 during an attempt to resurrect the Lordship.

James, son of Donald Grumach 4th Chief of Sleat, resided at Knock during the later 16th century, until his lands were forfeited to the Crown in 1581. Donald Gorm Mor's (James' nephew) possession of Sleat was confirmed in a Royal Charter in 1596, which stipulated that Caisteal Camus must be available as a residence for the king. The last reference to Knock as an occupied site dates to 1632.

The medieval remains obscure much of the visible evidence of the Iron Age dun, with the possible exception of a small ditch cut across the neck of the promontory. The medieval remains stand more than 10m high in places and are about 1.5m wide at the SW alongside the cliff face, although reduced to turf-covered footings inland.

Extensive stone robbing, probably coinciding with the building and improving of the nearby House of Knock in the 18th and 19th centuries, would have destabilised the monument and significantly contributed to its present condition. The level of deterioration since the castle was painted in watercolour (by Horatio McCulloch in 1854) is marked.

A tower at the S corner of the headland appears to be the oldest visible structure and may have been associated with a courtyard and ancillary buildings to the NW. A lodging range was introduced along the SW side of the courtyard in the late 16th or early 17th century, perhaps prompted by the 1596 royal charter. There exist the turf-covered remains of an ancillary building to NE of the tower and a wall at the head of the gully to the SW.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described including an area around them within which related archaeological evidence is likely to survive. It is defined to the S and W by the high water mark and is irregular on plan, with maximum dimensions of 85m N-S and 120m E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The above-ground elements of modern fences are excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a complex and multi-phase high-status medieval secular building, overlying a prehistoric site. The availability of documentary evidence for the medieval site adds to its significance. The castle has the potential to contribute to our knowledge of the development and use of comparable sites along Scotland's western seaboard and its importance is increased by its association with the Lordship of the Isles and James VI. In addition, the site has significant archaeological potential with regard to the Iron Age remains.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NG 60 NE 4.


Macintyre, J. (1938) Castle of Skye: Strongholds and homes of Clan Donald, Inverness, 24.

Miket, R. and Roberts, D. L. (1990) The Medieval Castles of Skye and Lochalsh, Portree, 25'31.

RCAHMS (1928) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Ninth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles, Edinburgh, No. 600; 192, No. 614, 188 and 192.

Ritchie, J. N. G. and Harman, M. (1985) Argyll and the Western Isles, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 1st. ed., No. 30, 84.

Ritchie, J. N. G. and Harman, M. (1996) Argyll and the Western Isles, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 2nd ed., No. 27, 95'96.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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