Lismore, Tirefour Castle


Site Name Lismore, Tirefour Castle

Classification Broch

Alternative Name(s) Lynn Of Lorn; Tirefour Broch; Tirifuir; Tirrefour Broch; Tirefuir; Tirefuar

Canmore ID 23082

Site Number NM84SE 1

NGR NM 86755 42912

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Lismore And Appin (argyll And Bute)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM84SE 1 86755 429012

(NM 8675 4290) Tirefour Castle (NAT)

Broch (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

One of the best preserved monuments in the county, this broch stands on the highest point of a rocky ridge and commands an extensive view in all directions. The NW and SE flanks of the ridge fall steeply, the latter to a gently sloping terrace which in turn is bounded by a cliff which rises sheer from the shore. Access to the broch from the NE and SW along the ridge is comparatively easy. In plan the broch is almost circular. At ground level, the solid, dry-stone wall is, on average, 4.5 metres thick and the enclosed court is about 12.2 metres in diameter. The outer face of the wall stands, for the most part, to a height of at least 3 metres and reaches 4.9 metres in the SE. The inner part of the wall however, is less well preserved, the floor of the central court being buried under a mass of debris to a depth of at least 1 metre, although in the NW, the inner face is exposed to a height of 3.5 metres.

After rising almost vertically about 2.5 metres above ground level, the inner face is stepped back to form a ledge or scarcement 0.6 metres wide, though this can now be traced for only three quarters of its circuit.

Below the ledge, on the north face, there is a doorway 1 metre wide which, although now choked with debris, probably gave access to a mural cell or staircase.

The entrance to the broch faces WSW and is 1.4 metres wide at either end. The remains of an intra-mural gallery, about 2.7 metres above ground level can be traced. For the most part, these are fragmentary, but there is a well-preserved stretch of 7 metres in the NW measuring

1 metre in height and 0.6 metres in width, whilst a further short stretch, still lintelled, is visible on the east side. The sockets where the outer ends of the lintels have rested can be seen intermittently and some of the dislodged lintels are among the debris on the gallery floor. On the NE side, 0.7 metres above the level of the ledge of the inner face the wall is pierced by an opening 0.9 metres wide which appears to have served as a relieving slit rather than as a doorway.

There are protective outworks to the NE and SW, each consisting of a wall running transversely across the ridge. That to the NE survives as a grass-gown stony bank spread to a thickness of up to 5.5 metres and standing to a height of 1.5 metres externally and 0.7 metres internally. It is much reduced at its west end and there is no sign of a doorway. The outwork to the SW is similar, measuring 3 metres in thickness at the base and up to 1.1 metres in external height. There is a well-marked entrance in line with that of the broch.

RCAHMS 1975, visited May 1968.

As described.

Revised at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (DWR) 10 November 1971.

Isle of Lismore - Study and publication phase. Original fieldwork completed in 2005. Some surface survey of the central part of the island in 2007. Consolidation of Tirefour broch planned for February March 2008. Archaeological trail currently being designed by local community.

Archive deposited with RCAHMS. Copies currently lodged with Historic Scotland.

Funder: Historic Scotland, McDonald Institute Cambridge, CERS (current phase).

S Stoddart, 2007.



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