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Clackmannan Tower

A Scheduled Monument in Clackmannanshire East, Clackmannanshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.1079 / 56°6'28"N

Longitude: -3.7604 / 3°45'37"W

OS Eastings: 290616

OS Northings: 691963

OS Grid: NS906919

Mapcode National: GBR 1L.M16H

Mapcode Global: WH5QF.6RL0

Entry Name: Clackmannan Tower

Scheduled Date: 30 June 1921

Last Amended: 17 March 2017

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90073

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: castle

Location: Clackmannan

County: Clackmannanshire

Electoral Ward: Clackmannanshire East

Traditional County: Clackmannanshire

Description

Circa 1800. 2-storey, 3-bay, traditional house. Harled with painted margins and quoin strips, projecting cills.

SW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Modern door to centre at ground, windows in flanking bays and regular fenestration abutting eaves at 1st floor.

SE ELEVATION: gabled elevation with single window to outer right at ground.

NW ELEVATION: gabled elevation with windows to outer left at both floors.

Non-traditional late 20th century glazing. Grey slates. Coped ashlar stacks with thackstanes and cans; ashlar-coped skews.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument is a medieval tower-house that is mostly complete despite the re-instatement of the east wall in the 1950s following a collapsed cause by mining subsidence.  It retains much of its original architectural and structural detail, including vaulting, window dressings, window seats, door surrounds, carved fireplaces, staircases, parapets and roof gables.  These features help document the tower's extended development sequence and are an important component of the monument's significance.  The scientific and systematic study of the monument, both upstanding fabric and buried archaeological remains, would allow us to develop a better understanding of the overall chronology of the site, including its date of origin.

The significance of the tower is accentuated by the survival of associated garden features and an outer enclosure/building platform.  Although these features have been reduced to earthworks, their overall plan and relationship to the tower are discernible.  The monument has the potential to enhance our knowledge of the relationship of the tower with later buildings and garden features, which are believed to date to a late 16th/early 17th century remodelling of the castle.

There is significant potential for survival of buried features or structures.  References to Clackmannan in Royal charters and writs from the 13th and early 14th century suggests that there may have been a castle predating the earliest phases of the masonry tower and a view of the castle from 1758 shows a ditch surrounding the tower, parts of which seem to have survived as late as 1795.  Late 18th century and early 19th century views also document the existence of a large late 16th century mansion house to the west of the tower.  This was demolished after the death of the last member of the family in 1791 and is not shown on the first edition ordnance survey map (1866) but evidence of this structure is likely to survive as buried remains.  There is also potential for survival of deposits such as pits and middens that can be expected to contain artefacts and environmental remains.  These can provide information about daily life and economy, diet, trade and exchange, and the use of foods and artefacts in expressing social status.

Contextual Characteristics

Tower-houses are a widespread but diverse class of monument across Scotland.  They became a popular form of residence with the Scottish nobility and lairdly class during the 14th century perhaps influenced by David II building a tower house at Edinburgh Castle from around 1367.  The influence of David II's tower at Edinburgh may be particularly significant at Clackmannan, as the site was granted by David II to his kinsman, Sir Robert Bruce in 1359 and the first phase of the tower appears to date from shortly after then.  Tower-houses continued to be the chosen architectural form for the residences of Scottish elites throughout the late medieval and early post-medieval periods. Tower-houses provided a degree of security but were also a means of displaying wealth, social status and martial knowledge.

Clackmannan Tower is a fine and largely complete example of a tower-house that was constructed in the 14th century and augmented and updated until the 17th century.  There is particular interest in the way the older architectural characteristics of the tower were combined with later features when it was adapted in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The early tower has similarities with other contemporary large towers such as Crichton (scheduled monument reference SM13585, Canmore ID 53601) and Craigmillar Castles (scheduled monument reference SM90129, Canmore ID 52109).  However, at Clackmannan, the later work to adapt the older makes an interesting contrast to sites where tower-houses were transformed into full courtyard castles.  At Clackmannan, changes were made without a complete re-ordering, leading to awkward circulation.  This contrasts with the much more costly work of William Crichton and then the 5th Earl of Bothwell at Crichton Castle.  There is also potential to compare the tower with Alloa Tower (listed building reference LB20959, Canmore ID 320380), less than 2km to the west, and Castle Campbell (scheduled monument reference SM13611, Canmore ID 48229), some 10km to the northeast, both of which also saw alterations to adapt the accommodation in response to changing domestic requirements, the aesthetic preferences of owners and the continued need for such residences to demonstrate the power and status of their occupants.

Clackmannan Tower would have been, and to an extent remains, a very imposing building in the landscape, occupying a prominent location above the Forth.

Associative Characteristics

The castle, although potentially an early royal castle, has a long association with a single family, the Bruces of Clackmannan.  In 1359 King David II granted Clackmannan to his kinsman, Sir Robert Bruce, and the early work within the north tower probably dates from shortly afterwards.  Henry Bruce, the last of the male line died in 1772, but his widow, Lady Katherine Bruce, lived on in the tower and mansion and entertained Robert Burns there on the 26th August 1787 'knighting' him with the supposed sword of King Robert I.  The estate was sold after her death in 1791 and the tower was not reoccupied.

The monument reflects varied influences on Scottish architecture over at least two centuries.  The massive late 14th century tower reflects contemporary society and the need for security as well as an imposing residence.  The later refurbishments such as the archway over the east door demonstrate the influence of the Renaissance and of classical ideas. The monument is a romantic and striking feature of the landscape, especially given its hilltop location.

Statement of National Importance

The monument has potential to add significantly to the understanding of medieval castles, their architecture, construction, maintenance, development and abandonment.  The upstanding tower retains its structural and decorative characteristics to a marked degree, incorporating many significant architectural features.  The monument is particularly important for understanding the development of noble residences in the late medieval and post-medieval periods.  The monument's importance is further accentuated by the evidence for associated gardens and enclosures, which is a relatively rare survival.  There is also high potential for the survival of important buried archaeological evidence, including traces of a potential earlier castle and a later associated mansion house, as well as artefacts and environmental evidence that can enhance our understanding of the daily domestic life of the inhabitants and their society and economy.  The monument would have been a prominent part of the contemporary landscape during its occupation and remains a significant landmark.  The castle is known to have been the home of a single family for over 400 years, and documentary records can enhance understanding of the castle and its functions.  Our understanding of the form, function and character of castles in Scotland would be diminished if this monument were lost or damaged.

 

 

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

Wood TOWN PLAN OF STONEHAVEN (1823).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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