Scheduled Monument

Castle SweenSM90068

Status: Designated


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


Date Added
Prehistoric domestic and defensive: cave, Secular: castle
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
North Knapdale
NR 71220 78818
171220, 678818


The monument consists of a castle in the form of a quadrangular enclosure, probably of late 12th century date, with later additions up until the 17th century, after which time it became ruinous.

The main part of the castle is a stone-walled enclosure, originally containing buildings of light construction sited against the walls. The walls contain no windows, but have corner and pilaster buttresses, a detail supporting the traditional dating to the 12th century and the patron as being Suibhne, ancestor of the MacSweens. The main gate is formed in the base of a pilaster buttress and has a rounded arch. The castle courtyard contains a well.

Added to the W side of the enclosure is a square tower, with a small round tower attached to its north side, and to the NE angle a rectangular tower. The square, W, tower dates to the early 14th century, incorporating the remains of a wing of the 13th century, and the round one to the 15th century. There is a kitchen in the basement of the NE tower with a water inlet with basin and internal spout. The rock beneath the W tower is unstable, and the tower ruinous.

In a cave beneath the castle a stone axe and whetstone were found c. 1926, hinting at a much earlier occupation of the site.

The area to be scheduled is approximately rectangular and measures 155m NE-SW by 80m NW-SE, to contain the castle and a stretch of foreshore which includes large fragments of collapsed walling from the W tower, as marked in red on the accompanying map,

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as a well-preserved stone castle of extremely early date, with later alterations. It provides evidence of domestic and military planning, military practice and social organisation during the Middle Ages.



RCAHMS records the monument as NR 77 NW 1.


Dunbar, J. G. (1966) The historical architecture of Scotland, London, 25.

Piggott, S. and Simpson, W. D. (1970) Illustrated guide to ancient monuments: volume VI, Scotland, Edinburgh, 53.

Simpson, W. D. (1967) 'Castle Sween', Trans Glasgow Archaeol Soc, New, vol. 15, 3-14, fig. 1.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Castle Sween

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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

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