Scheduled Monument

Island I Vow, castle and settlement, Loch LomondSM11073

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
Secular: castle
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
NN 33130 12760
233130, 712760


The monument comprises the remains of a 16th-century castle and small rectangular buildings, enclosure walls and a jetty which are probably contemporaneous with the castle.

Island I Vow is the northernmost of Loch Lomond's islands. The castle dates to 1577 and was built by Andrew MacFarlane as a residence of the MacFarlane chiefs. When the castle on Inveruglas isle was destroyed by Cromwell's troops in the mid 17th century, the castle on Island I Vow became the principle residence of the MacFarlane clan chiefs. The castle stands at the southern edge of the island with a small bay immediately to the south.

The entrance to the castle was probably on the N. The E and S walls are in a reasonable state of preservation, surviving to c 7m and there is a possible stairwell rising from the first floor in the SE internal corner. The castle had a vaulted ground floor and a small vaulted room remains, probably either a cellar or kitchen. Immediately above the vault the first floor (ground) surface may be intact underneath the turf covering and it is likely that this area formed the hall of the castle. The large window in the S wall is placed directly above the vault and the later fireplace in the SW corner suggests that this was a living area


To the W and N of the castle are the ruins of small houses. Their walls are mainly drystone, although some parts are mortared. Their period of construction is not certain but they may be contemporary with the castle. The open area on the east side of the castle may have been used as gardens or for small-scale agricultural production or for livestock. Enclosure walls can be traced along the W and S shores of the island. The N shore is taken up with a jetty and breakwater.

At the NW corner of the island is a rectangular building aligned E to W, and a hollow-way leads up from the shore past the east side of this building. On the E side of this cleared area is an earth bank which runs N to S and forms an enclosing arm. From the SW corner of this bank an enclosure wall can be traced running off to the W and joining with the main enclosure wall along the W side of the island. At the S end of the bank is a rectangular drystone structure which probably had an entrance on its N wall at the NW corner.

The MacFarlanes moved to Arrochar in 1697, but the castle seems to have continued in use. In 1743 the castle was described as a 'pretty good house with gardens' by Buchanan of Auchmar. It was in ruins by 1814 when William Wordsworth visited Loch Lomond.

The area to be scheduled comprises Island I Vow which measures a maximum 98m N to S by 80m E to W, as marked in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

The castle is of national importance for its historical associations with the MacFarlane chiefs. In addition, the castle, buildings and enclosure walls are of national importance for the potential of the above and below ground archaeology. There has been little investigation of the site which consequently holds considerable potential for the archaeological study of a medieval stronghold on an island location.



The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NN31SW 2.


Baker F 1995, LOCH LOMOND ISLANDS SURVEY. AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT COMMISSIONED BY FRIENDS OF LOCH LOMOND, Report on phase 1 and management recommendations, Unpublished.

Fraser Sir W 1869, THE CHIEFS OF COLQUHOUN AND THEIR COUNTRY, Edinburgh, Vol. 2, 78-9, 146.


RCAHMS 1978d, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS OF DUMBARTON DISTRICT, CLYDEBANK DISTRICT, BEARSDEN AND MILNGAVIE DISTRICT, STRATHCLYDE REGION, The archaeological sites and monuments of Scotland series No. 3, 17, No. 103, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

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 (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).

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.

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Printed: 02/12/2022 08:52