Scheduled Monument

Island Muller CastleSM3222

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: castle; tower
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
NR 75619 22449
175619, 622449


The monument comprises the fragmentary remains of a small tower house standing upon the summit of Island Muller, a small rock promontory which projects into the mouth of the Kilbrannon Sound. On the promontory there are also the remains of associated buildings. The monument was first scheduled in 1972. On this occasion, an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

Almost nothing is known of the history of this castle. However, during the 16th century the lands of Ballimenach and Smerby appear to have been held by the MacDonald family. Sir James MacDonald, son of Angus MacDonald of Dunnyveg, imprisoned his father at Smerby in 1597.

The tower, now reduced to its lowermost courses, appears to be constructed of local random-rubble masonry laid in lime mortar. It is oblong on plan and measures 13.3m from E to W by 12.0m transversely over walls 2.6m thick. An external return in the masonry of the W wall may mark the site of an entrance doorway, while a small relieving-arch near the centre of the S wall probably indicates the position of a latrine-chute outlet. The low turf-grown mound that partly encloses the tower may represent the remains of a rampart-wall of contemporary, or of earlier, date.

It is uncertain whether the causeway is of natural or of artificial origin. At the inner end of the causeway there is a small rectangular platform enclosed on its three landward sides by the remains of a wall of stone or turf, which may have served as a boat noost. The approach track passes the inner end of this platform and skirts the W base of the rock outcrop before turning eastwards to ascend its southern slopes. Immediately before the point at which it begins to ascend, the track passes through what seems to be the remains of a small sub-rectangular building or enclosure measuring about 10.7m from W to E by 7.6m transversely.

The area to be scheduled includes Island Muller, with its causeway to the mean high water level, the tower house and the associated buildings and structures. The area is irregular in shape and has maximum dimensions of about 150m NW-SE and about 87m NE-SW, as marked in red on the attached map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a small medieval tower house with associated structures. Its maritime situation amply demonstrates the importance of such consideration to the ruling elite of the western seaboard, during the medieval period. The archaeology of this monument has the potential to greatly increase our knowledge about the defences, domestic life and function of such monuments.



RCAHMS records this site as NR 72 SE 4.


RCAHMS 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments, Vol.: Kintyre, Edinburgh, 159-60, No. 310.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. 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

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