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

Find out more

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

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Castle Sween

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 16/02/2019 17:14