Scheduled Monument

Sauchie Tower, tower and houseSM629

Status: Designated


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The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Secular: house; tower
Local Authority
NS 89624 95709
289624, 695709


The monument is a late medieval tower house, the remains of related ancillary buildings and an enclosure wall, and the remains of a 17th century house. The tower house is visible as a standing building with a rectangular plan, the enclosure wall and ancillary buildings as footings and buried remains, and the house as stone wall foundations and standing remains. The monument is located on the sloping ground above the River Devon, at about 30m above sea level.

The tower house dates to the 15th century and is built of buff-coloured sandstone ashlar masonry and measures 11.5m by 10.3m externally with walls 1.6-2m thick, except for the west wall which is over 3m thick and contains mural chambers. The tower house has four principal storeys and a polygonal slab-roofed cap-house. The entrance is at ground level in the west wall, opening out into a lobby contained within the thickness of the wall and giving access to a circular stair in the northwest corner. The barrel-vaulted ground floor has been divided into two levels. The ground level contained store rooms and a well and the entresol level, inserted between the ground and first floors, contained kitchens. The hall was on the first floor, with the main apartments on the second and third floor levels. Further accommodation was located in the roof space and there is a broad parapet walk carried on corbels with continuous corbelling at the corner rounds. The roof and roof structure are modern dating from 2001. Adjacent to the tower house are the buried remains of ancillary buildings including a near contemporary hall enclosed by a defensive enclosure wall.  The 17th century house is rectangular on plan and constructed against the west and northwest parts of the enclosure wall, incorporating part of its fabric.

The scheduled area is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling extends up to but does not include the post-and-wire fence to the south and excludes the above-ground elements of all other post-and-wire fences.

Statement of National Importance

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument consists of the upstanding remains of a 15th century tower house with associated ancillary range and courtyard. The tower house retains its original scale and form and contains considerable architectural and structural detail, including window dressings, fireplaces and staircases. The significance of the tower house is enhanced by the survival of the remains of a contemporary courtyard and ancillary buildings, as well as the remains of the house which superseded the tower.

The tower house was built sometime between 1430 and 1440 and is little altered. The range, courtyard and enclosure wall are likely of similar date. The perimeter wall appears to have been remodelled in the later 15th century with the insertion of dumb-bell gun-loops into the west wall and the addition of a round tower on the northwest angle. The later house was erected around 1631 against the west and northwest parts of the perimeter wall, partly reusing the pre-existing enclosure wall and round tower. The medieval range was demolished in the early 18th century and the area incorporated into gardens for the 17th century house. Around the same date a porch was added to the west entrance of the tower and a stables or byre erected against the north wall of the tower house. During the later 18th and 19th centuries the house was subdivided with the addition of associated stair towers and separate entrances. A cottage was built against the south gable in the 19th century. The 17th century house was abandoned around 1930 and demolished soon after but drawing and photographs survive showing its exterior form. The monument therefore has had a long period of use and alteration which is well understood. It can therefore add to our knowledge of construction techniques and architectural preferences of the time, and the way in which the function of such buildings developed over time.

Although the monument has been subject to limited excavation, this has not had a significant impact on the archaeological potential of the site and much remains unexcavated. Excavation has taken place within the ground floor of the tower house, to the west of the tower and within the later house. This has demonstrated that the tower house was likely located at the centre of the east side of a large courtyard and enclosed within a defensible enclosure wall and ditch. The northern and western limits of the enclosure wall have been recorded, along with a possible ditch to the west. The recovery of structural remains such as paving stones, mortar and glass fragments provide evidence for the structures, architecture and use of the buildings.

Bake ovens and structural remains partially uncovered adjacent to the east wall of the range indicate the presence of further buried remains beyond the limits of the excavation. Therefore there is good potential for the survival of further structural remains and archaeological deposits, including occupation and abandonment debris, artefacts and environmental remains such as charcoal and pollen within, beneath and around the upstanding and known remains. Such buried archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the economy, diet and social status of the occupants, and about land use and environment.

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 14thcentury perhaps influenced by David II building a tower house at Edinburgh Castle. Towers 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.

Sauchie Tower is one of several late medieval/early modern defensible houses in the region, including Clackmannan Tower (scheduled monument number SM90073; Canmore ID 48302), Alloa Tower (listed building number LB20959; Canmore ID 47167), Blairlogie (listed building number LB10461; Canmore ID 47163) and Plean Tower (listed building number LB13859; Canmore ID 46901). The proximity of these monuments can give important insights into the late medieval landscape and add to our understanding of social organisation, settlement hierarchy and land-use.

The example at Sauchie is of particular significance because of its good preservation, and surviving architectural features. It also shares some architectural similarities with other near contemporary buildings in the region such as Clackmannan Tower and Dunfermline Abbey refectory which has a near identical cap-house to Sauchie Tower. Additionally, although most tower houses were originally provided with ancillary buildings and courtyards, such associated features rarely survive. Sauchie therefore represents an unusual survival of a late medieval tower house complex with contemporary ancillary features and evidence of a long history of development and use. The complex at Sauchie has the potential to broaden our understanding of the nature and chronology of late medieval tower house complexes, their place within the landscape of central Scotland, and the development and use of such sites over time.

Associative Characteristics

Historical records suggest that Sauchie Tower was built sometime between 1430 and 1440 by James Schaw of Sauchie, who was Comptroller of the royal household in the 1470s and appointed captain of Stirling Castle in 1489.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it makes a significant addition to our understanding of the date, construction, use and development of tower house complexes. It is an impressive structure that retains its field characteristics and contains architectural and structural detail, including window dressings, fireplaces and staircases. The monument's importance is further accentuated by the survival of a contemporary ancillary buildings, including a hall, set within a defensive enclosure, as well as the remains of the later house which superseded the tower as the primary residence. Additional evidence of such features is likely to survive as associated buried archaeological remains. The tower house makes a significant contribution to today's landscape and would have been a prominent part of the historic landscape. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to appreciate and understand the character and development of tower houses, and the structure and organisation of society and economy during the late medieval and early post-medieval periods, as well as the development of such sites over time.



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 47053 and 219418 (accessed on 22/02/2017).

Addyman, T. (2000) Sauchie Tower, Sauchie, Clackmannanshire (Alloa parish), 15th-century tower-house', Discovery Excav Scot, vol. 1, 2000, 19

Addyman Archaeology (2008) Sauchie Tower, Clackmannanshire. Excavations and analytical survey: April – September 2005. Unpublished report.

Cannell, J. and Lewis, J. (1997) Excavations at Sauchie Tower, Clackmannanshire', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 127, 2, 1997, 843-853

Gifford, J., Walker, F.A. and Fawcett, R. 2002 The Buildings of Scotland: Stirling and Central Scotland. Yale University Press, 651-655.

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T. (1887-92) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v. Edinburgh, 265-70.

RCAHMS. (1933) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eleventh report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the counties of Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan. Edinburgh, 309-12

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.

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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 (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

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Sauchie Tower, looking northeast, during daytime, on a clear day with grey sky
Sauchie Tower, looking east, during daytime, on a clear day with grey sky

Printed: 18/06/2024 10:00