Scheduled Monument

Dunollie CastleSM293

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
Kilmore And Kilbride
NM 85239 31521
185239, 731521


The monument comprises the remains of Dunollie Castle, visible as an upstanding monument, together with earthworks relating to the Dark Age and medieval occupations of the site.

The monument was first scheduled in 1931 and rescheduled in 1993, but only the upstanding remains of the castle were included. The present rescheduling rectifies this by taking in the earthworks to the N of the castle.

Dunollie Castle is situated upon the summit of a rock promontory towards the N end of Oban Bay. The existing remains comprise a tower house with an associated bailey (or courtyard), standing on the SW portion of the promontory, together with fragmentary traces of an outer enclosure which surround the remaining area of the summit. The tower occupies the NE portion of the courtyard, the remainder of which is enclosed by a curtain wall and contains traces of internal buildings. The greater part of the castle may be ascribed to the 15th century, but some portions of the curtain wall appear to be of later date.

The tower house is almost square on plan and measures 12m from E to W by 11.3m transversely. It incorporates four main storeys, each of which comprises a single apartment, the lower floor being a barrel-vaulted cellar. The tower has an overall height of about 14m.

The courtyard measures about 24.4m square and was formerly enclosed by a curtain wall. This is now reduced to its lower courses, except on the N and E sides.

About 9m E of the SE angle of the courtyard, a natural defile, which provides a possible way of ascent to the summit, has been sealed off by a well-constructed wall of rubble and lime mortar. Traces of ramparts can also be seen on the N side of the castle. These defences may have been associated with an earlier Dark Age fortress.

Dunollie was the chief stronghold of the Lorn kings in Northern Dalriada. It is said to have been captured and burnt in AD 698 and afterwards re-built by Selbach, ruler of Northern Dalriada. During the early Middle Ages, the lands of Dunollie formed part of the extensive MacDougall lordship of Lorn, and it remained a stronghold of the MacDougalls until the early 18th century when it was abandoned in favour of a new house on an adjacent site.

The area to be scheduled includes the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to survive. It is irregular in plan, with maximum dimensions of 150m N-S and 83m E-W, as shown in red on the attached map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance because of the evidence that it provides (or has the potential to provide) for the study of early historic fortification, settlement, society, economy and industry; the military, political and social interaction of Picts & Scots in the late 7th and 8th centuries; the feudalization of Western Scottish Society in the 13th century; and the design, construction and function of medieval castles on the western seaboard.



No Bibliography entries for this designation

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 29/05/2020 01:55