Mauchline, Castle Street, Mauchline Castle

Castle, Tower House

Site Name Mauchline, Castle Street, Mauchline Castle

Classification Castle, Tower House

Alternative Name(s) Abbot Hunter's Tower

Canmore ID 42697

Site Number NS42NE 2

NGR NS 49771 27264

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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

  • Council East Ayrshire
  • Parish Mauchline
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Cumnock And Doon Valley
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS42NE 2 49771 27264

(NS 4977 2726) Tower (NR)

OS 6" map (1967)

Mauchline Castle or Abbot Hunter's Tower (V G Childe and W D Simpson 1954): the Cistercian Melrose Abbey held lands in Ayrshire, virtually represented by Mauchline parish, the first grant being made before 1177. At Mauchline, there was a grange, with offices, granaries, barns and a hospice (NS42NE 6) and chapel (the latter was to become the parish church). The nucleus of these buildings was this tower, probably built about 1450, when Andrew Hunter was abbot of Melrose (his arms appear on a roof boss in the hall). It is rectangular on plan, with a basement area of two vaulted cellars, large ground floor room, hall on the first floor, and an attic in the roof; its ashlar walls are 5ft thick.

Some repairs may have been carried out when it was secularised in the early 17th century, e.g. the square-headed windows may then have been inserted, and much more recently, the battlements have been restored. Buildings in the style of the 18th century have been erected to form a courtyard southwards from the tower. There is no evidence to suggest that a cell of the Abbey or a dependent priory developed here; this was simply the administrative headquarters of the barony.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1892; I B Cowan and D E Easson 1976; M H B Sanderson 1975; R C Reid 1930

Constructed of ashlar squared masonry, this tower is in good condition; it has been slated in recent times. It measures 10.0m E-W by 9.0m externally. There are four non-defensive windows on the E side, an entrance on the S, and two garderobe outlets on the N, discharging into the Mauchline Burn. A statue niche is above the entrance.

Visited by OS (JFC) 14 June 1954

Mauchline Tower is generally as described. Its external fabric is in a state of decay and its E and W walls have been strengthened by some very obstrusive iron girder ties.

Visited by OS (MJF) 5 November 1980.

An assessment was carried out in advance of environmental improvements adjacent to this tower, which displays the arms of Abbot Andrew Hunter (c.1444-71), probably as the focus for the buildings of a grange belonging to Melrose Abbey. The exact extent of the grange and the disposition of the buildings within is not known.

The area surrounding the tower was only affected to a depth of 0.5m by the improvements. Very little was found at this depth, apart from an area of cobbles, possibly part of an 18th-century courtyard.

Sponsor: Enterprise Ayrshire.

R Coleman 1993.

Trenching by mechanical digger alongside the E walls of the tower and the house of Gavin Hamilton was stopped as mortared wall stubs and associated deposits were revealed beneath modern demolition rubble. These features were then recorded and excavated by SUAT. The modern surface and bedding sealed a levelling layer of sandstone rubble, which was removed to reveal the foundation courses of two unconnected sandstone walls. On partial removal, these two walls and a slab drain proved to be built directly on bedrock, which had probably been levelled for the purpose.

No features earlier than c 1700 were encountered above the bedrock. Given the close proximity of the site to the focus of an ecclesiastical setflement founded in the 12th century, the absence of pre-18th century finds suggests that the levelling truncation down to bedrock SE of Abbot Hunter's Tower removed all trace of prior activity.

Sponsor: Meikle Kleboe.

C Falconer 1994.

Architecture Notes

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC28261, 1953.



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