Ancient Monuments

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Castle Sween

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Argyll, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.9478 / 55°56'51"N

Longitude: -5.6657 / 5°39'56"W

OS Eastings: 171220

OS Northings: 678818

OS Grid: NR712788

Mapcode National: GBR DDDZ.TWX

Mapcode Global: WH0JL.YR7Q

Entry Name: Castle Sween

Scheduled Date: 11 September 1995

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90068

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: cave; Secular: castle

Location: North Knapdale

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Mid Argyll

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument consists of a castle in the form of a quadrangular enclosure, probably of late 12th century date, with later additions up until the 17th century, after which time it became ruinous.

The main part of the castle is a stone-walled enclosure, originally containing buildings of light construction sited against the walls. The walls contain no windows, but have corner and pilaster buttresses, a detail supporting the traditional dating to the 12th century and the patron as being Suibhne, ancestor of the MacSweens. The main gate is formed in the base of a pilaster buttress and has a rounded arch. The castle courtyard contains a well.

Added to the W side of the enclosure is a square tower, with a small round tower attached to its north side, and to the NE angle a rectangular tower. The square, W, tower dates to the early 14th century, incorporating the remains of a wing of the 13th century, and the round one to the 15th century. There is a kitchen in the basement of the NE tower with a water inlet with basin and internal spout. The rock beneath the W tower is unstable, and the tower ruinous.

In a cave beneath the castle a stone axe and whetstone were found c. 1926, hinting at a much earlier occupation of the site.

The area to be scheduled is approximately rectangular and measures 155m NE-SW by 80m NW-SE, to contain the castle and a stretch of foreshore which includes large fragments of collapsed walling from the W tower, as marked in red on the accompanying map,

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved stone castle of extremely early date, with later alterations. It provides evidence of domestic and military planning, military practice and social organisation during the Middle Ages.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NR 77 NW 1.


Dunbar, J. G. (1966) The historical architecture of Scotland, London, 25.

Piggott, S. and Simpson, W. D. (1970) Illustrated guide to ancient monuments: volume VI, Scotland, Edinburgh, 53.

Simpson, W. D. (1967) 'Castle Sween', Trans Glasgow Archaeol Soc, New, vol. 15, 3-14, fig. 1.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Castle Sween
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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