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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 706316

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NS89SE 1 88893 92518

(NS 8889 9252) Alloa Tower (NR).

OS 6" map (1958)

A massive and lofty tower of probably the 15th century which has been greatly altered, externally and internally. A large number of symmetrically-placed windows were opened out in the 17th century and the entrance in the centre of the north front is now covered by a Renaissance doorway, hardly earlier than the late 18th century.

N Tranter 1963; RCAHMS 1933

As described and planned.

Visited by OS (DWR) 8 February 1973

Continuing restoration work at Alloa Tower uncovered a well head withiun a mural chamber at first floor level. The well and chamber has been blocked up when the tower was remodelled by the Sixth Earl of Mar. Excavation of the rubble fill showed that the shaft is in excellent condition,more than 7m deep, cut about 1.0m into bed rock at the bottom. It is hoped to incorporate this feature in the restoration.

A Bailey 1991.

NS 889 9252 A comprehensive survey was made of the interior of the multi-period tower house at Alloa, in advance of refurbishment for its use as an interpretative centre. The development of the tower, from its initial foundation, through hall and tower house forms, was elucidated. Previous excavation had revealed traces of the 18th-century mansion, and the survey of the standing building revealed features linked with the use of the tower as an annexe to the mansion. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1800, and today only the tower house remains. The survey revealed the following sequence of construction and development:

Period I Early 14th century - fortified residence with cellar/pit prison: form unknown.

Period II Mid-14th century - hall house: three levels plus cellar/pit prison, first floor access.

Period III 15th century - developed hall house: four/ five levels plus cellar/pit prison, first floor access.

Period IV Late 15th century - tower house A: five levels plus cellar/pit prison, first floor access.

Period V Late 16th century -tower house B: five levels plus cellar/pit prison, probably ground and first floor access.

Period VI 1710-1800 - annexe to 18th-century mansion.

Period VII 1800-1838 - partial reoccupation while new mansion is built.

The most radical remodelling dates to the early 18th century, when the 8th Earl of Mar prepared a series of plans for the redevelopment of the tower?s interior, alongside the construction of the massive, elaborate mansion house. These included plans for a chapel at ground floor level, and a roof-garden. The survey revealed traces of some of the 8th Earl?s developments, although it is by no means clear that all the proposed changes were carried out.

The developments at Alloa Tower represent the changing role of the castle from a stronghold (as part of a defensive line along the N banks of the Forth - Clackmannan Tower, visible from Alloa, also forms part of this defensive line), to its role as an 18th-century mansion house, at the centre of an extensive designed landscape. Little evidence of the latter remains, although it is to be hoped that the opening of the tower as an interpretative centre will allow for the placement of the building in its wider, historical context.

A full report has been deposited with the NMRS.

Sponsors: Alloa Tower Building Preservation Trust, NTS.

G Ewart 1996

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