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Castle Sween

A Scheduled Monument in Mid Argyll, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

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

Description

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

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NR 77 NW 1.

References:

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
https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/castle-sween
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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