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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1018737

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The imposing castle stands on a rocky ridge close to the shore of Loch Sween within the policies of the Castle Sween Caravan Park. The castle is remarkable both for the state of preservation of the main walls and for the sophistication of the original construction. On plan it is a quadrangular castle of enclosure with projecting buttresses at the angles and at the centre of each of the walls; although primarily for defensive strength, the buttresses also give the castle a more pleasing exterior than many of the bare boxes of the west highland castles of enceinte. The gateway is in the south wall where the wall has been made thicker, not only to provide additional defence at door level, but also to make possible a platform above the door. Within the interior of this late 12th century castle, timber ranges round the wall would have provided accommodation, and the lines of support for internal floors and roofmg are clearly visible. There is a well in the north-east angle. The MacMillan Tower outside the north-east angle is of later, probably 15th century date; the basement floor contains kitchen and bakehouse oven with on upper floors, the hall, the lord's apartment and bedrooms. The unadorned narrow windows with pointed arches and simple inner splays are almost the only surviving architectural features of the tower. The round tower at the northwest angle, which appears to be of similar date, contained a prison and has a complex drain arrangement

Little is known of the castle's history but it was probably besieged by Robert Bruce during his campaigns in the west Some impression of the more civilised aspects oflife in the castle is provided by the description of the meeting between John, Lord of the Isles and Earl Douglas in 1483, probably at Castle Sween; the former received 'right great gifts' of clothes,wine, silk, English cloth and silver, and offered Earl Douglas a present of mantles. The castle became ruinous after attack by Colkitto in 1647.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

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