Scheduled Monument

Caisteal Camus or Knock Castle, on site of Dun HoravaigSM8480

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Secular: castle; dun (with post-prehistoric use)
Local Authority
NG 67142 8721
167142, 808721


The monument comprises Knock Castle, alternatively Caisteal Camus/Chamuis, which is medieval in date and is visible as an upstanding ruin, and is believed to overlie Dun Horavaig, alternatively, Dun Thorabhaig or Dun-Iain-Choinnich, an Iron Age dun. The monument is situated on a promontory at about 60m OD, overlooking Knock Bay to the SW and the Sound of Sleat to the NE, with the Allt Gleann Horavaig burn to the W and N.

There was a MacLeod castle here by 1402, when William, 4th Chief of the Macleods, died at Knock. The following decades were characterised by the Macleod-MacDonald conflict, and the inheritance of the Earldom of Ross by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles led to the MacLeods being forced out of Sleat. Knock was overrun by royal troops in 1431; it is next recorded in 1513 during an attempt to resurrect the Lordship.

James, son of Donald Grumach 4th Chief of Sleat, resided at Knock during the later 16th century, until his lands were forfeited to the Crown in 1581. Donald Gorm Mor's (James' nephew) possession of Sleat was confirmed in a Royal Charter in 1596, which stipulated that Caisteal Camus must be available as a residence for the king. The last reference to Knock as an occupied site dates to 1632.

The medieval remains obscure much of the visible evidence of the Iron Age dun, with the possible exception of a small ditch cut across the neck of the promontory. The medieval remains stand more than 10m high in places and are about 1.5m wide at the SW alongside the cliff face, although reduced to turf-covered footings inland.

Extensive stone robbing, probably coinciding with the building and improving of the nearby House of Knock in the 18th and 19th centuries, would have destabilised the monument and significantly contributed to its present condition. The level of deterioration since the castle was painted in watercolour (by Horatio McCulloch in 1854) is marked.

A tower at the S corner of the headland appears to be the oldest visible structure and may have been associated with a courtyard and ancillary buildings to the NW. A lodging range was introduced along the SW side of the courtyard in the late 16th or early 17th century, perhaps prompted by the 1596 royal charter. There exist the turf-covered remains of an ancillary building to NE of the tower and a wall at the head of the gully to the SW.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described including an area around them within which related archaeological evidence is likely to survive. It is defined to the S and W by the high water mark and is irregular on plan, with maximum dimensions of 85m N-S and 120m E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map. The above-ground elements of modern fences are excluded from the scheduling.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the remains of a complex and multi-phase high-status medieval secular building, overlying a prehistoric site. The availability of documentary evidence for the medieval site adds to its significance. The castle has the potential to contribute to our knowledge of the development and use of comparable sites along Scotland's western seaboard and its importance is increased by its association with the Lordship of the Isles and James VI. In addition, the site has significant archaeological potential with regard to the Iron Age remains.



RCAHMS records the monument as NG 60 NE 4.


Macintyre, J. (1938) Castle of Skye: Strongholds and homes of Clan Donald, Inverness, 24.

Miket, R. and Roberts, D. L. (1990) The Medieval Castles of Skye and Lochalsh, Portree, 25'31.

RCAHMS (1928) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Ninth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles, Edinburgh, No. 600; 192, No. 614, 188 and 192.

Ritchie, J. N. G. and Harman, M. (1985) Argyll and the Western Isles, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 1st. ed., No. 30, 84.

Ritchie, J. N. G. and Harman, M. (1996) Argyll and the Western Isles, Exploring Scotland's Heritage series, Edinburgh, 2nd ed., No. 27, 95'96.

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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Printed: 18/04/2019 13:39