Scheduled Monument

Carnasserie Castle,castle,garden,enclosure and cup-marked stoneSM90061

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun, Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cupmarks or cup-and-ring marks and similar rock art, Secular: castle; garden; motte
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
NM 83903 863
183903, 700863


The monument consists of a well-preserved castle, built between 1565 and 1572 by John Carswell, Rector of Kilmartin (and Bishop of the Isles from 1567), described as being in disrepair in 1825. There is documentary evidence of a significant dwelling on the site from 1436.

The castle consists of two towers (at E and NW), connected by a lower range containing the hall above vaulted basements and with chambers above. There are indications of earlier work in the lower part of the N wall of the E tower and in the 'dumb-bell' gunloops which must be earlier than the castle and hence re-used. Moulded details can be compared to work at Torwood Castle, near Stirling, and are almost certainly the work of the same masons.

The E tower and hall range are complete to wall-head level and the NW tower nearly so. The castle's entrance is in the re-entrant angle of the NW tower, beneath a finely-moulded frame for a double armorial panel (now gone), and from here a spiral stair rises to second-floor level. There is a further stair in the angle between the hall and E tower, which served the private family rooms in this tower.

The fireplace in the great chamber and the doors from hall to great chamber and to the stairs to the family rooms are finely carved. The vaults of the basements below the hall, although not of that beneath the great chamber in the E tower, have collapsed. S of the castle lay a garden, laid out during alterations carried out in 1681, and at the same time a door was formed from a window in the garden facade of the first-floor hall. There are traces of outbuildings to the NW of the castle.

A rocky knoll immediately N of the castle bears and enclosure which may represent an earlier medieval structure or a prehistoric dun. There is a cup-marked stone W of the castle.

The area to be scheduled comprises an irregularly-shaped area of ground measuring a maximum of 110m NW-SE by 105m NE-SW, to contain castle, outbuildings, garden, dun and an area which may provide evidence for associated activities, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved 16th-century castle of exceptional architectural quality, standing on or adjacent to an earlier fortified site. Study of its standing and below-ground remains has the potential to provide evidence for military architecture, domestic planning, material culture and social organisation during the medieval, early modern and possibly prehistoric periods.



RCAHMS records the monument as NM 80 SW 2.


MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1891) The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, 5v, Edinburgh, Vol. 4, 316-21, Fig. 893.

Tranter, N. (1970) 'The fortified house in Scotland', Edinburgh, Vol. 5, 16-18.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Carnasserie Castle

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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: 17/02/2019 15:39