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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 674619

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


(NM 6621 7243) Castle Tioram (NR) (In ruins).

OS 6" map, Argyllshire, 2nd ed., (1901)

The castle on Eilean Tioram is first mentioned in a charter of 1372. It was garrisoned by the government in the E 18th century and burned down in 1715. It consists of a massive pentagonal curtain wall occupying the whole summit of the rock, within which is a range of stone buildings of which the earliest is the keep, 16th century; the South range was added about 1600 followed by later additions and modifications (Simpson 1954).

Before 1928 the remains of a 5th century bronze hanging-bowl were recovered from a kitchen-midden at Tioram. It is 6 1/2" in diameter and spun from a single piece of bronze. Now in the West Highland Museum (Kilbride-Jones 1937).

M E M Donaldson 1923; H E Kilbride-Jones 1937; W D Simpson 1954.

Castle Tioram, as described and planned by Simpson. About 8.0m NW of the gable of the castle is a cleft in the rock which has almost certainly been used as a midden for the castle, otherwise no further information regarding the find spot of the hanging bowl which is still in the West Highland Museum.

Visited by OS (R L) 3 June 1970.

The hanging-bowl dates within the 5th to 8th centuries but is late, perhaps 7th century.

Information from R B K Stevenson, Keeper, National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

The castle is 13th century and later.

J G Dunbar 1966.

NM 662 724 An underwater survey off the N coast of Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart was carried out in June 1998. This was based upon the previous discovery of artefacts and archaeological sediments during a preliminary survey carried out in November 1997. Using a shore-based total station the underwater features, artefacts, survey grid and associated shoreline were accurately recorded relative to the island topography and castle structure.

Areas that produced finds and features during the initial 1997 survey were re-evaluated after the seven month absence from this site. Divers employed a systematic swimming survey method using pin flags to mark areas of archaeological interest. Numerous artefacts and features were identified, providing enough data to select a location for the establishment of a 5 x 5m grid to be intensively surveyed and drawn.

Extending offshore to the N of the castle ruin is a deposit of gravel and sediments darker than the surrounding sea floor. This area contained a fairly high concentration of grey and green slate fragments, pieces of cut stone blocks, and pot sherds. The grid was established within this area.

In the area to the ENE of the tidal island, fragments of an old jetty were found, including a substantial surviving structure and a scatter composed of loose planking and some thin metal rails on the sea floor. The visible extent of this feature, above and under water, was surveyed and the locations of the jetty fragments and the general dimensions of the scatter were recorded.

A concentration of possible cut stone blocks was identified at c 10msw (metres sea water), off the craggy shore of the NE quadrant of Eilean Tioram. There are no surviving structures on land in this area to relate the blocks to, although a level area which could support a small structure is located nearby.

A scatter of bottles was found in the centre of the channel between Eilean Tioram and island of Riska. This scatter contained champagne, whisky, and wine bottles; most likely from the latter part of this century.

Numerous fragments of slate, both grey and green, and some pot sherds were located to the WNW of the island. The bottom here is primarily composed of sand, which is constantly shifting due to tidal action, thus exposing and covering artefacts on a continual basis.

The submerged archaeological landscape around Castle Tioram is quite varied and provides information on numerous aspects of the castle's history and its construction. This survey has provided enough data to identify areas where an excavation or more intensive survey programmes could provide valuable information relating to the past activities at Castle Tioram.

Sponsor: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

D A McCullough and M Taylor 1998

NM 661 724 A fieldwork programme, including an integrated survey of the island's topography, archaeology and standing buildings, was undertaken during November and December 1997.

Sponsor: ARP Lorimer for Anta Estates.

C Evans 1998

Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division carried out an archaeological monitoring of emergency stabilisation works to the North West curtain wall of Castle Tioram in 2000. The report concluded that the collapsed wall section had been repaired at some point in the Middle Ages to a lower standard. The inner core of the wall, however, was of original build.

NMRS MS/725/286.

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