Scheduled Monument

Caisteal Camus or Knock Castle, on site of Dun HoravaigSM8480

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; 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 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: 21/02/2024 11:17