Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Canna, Coroghan Castle

Castle (Medieval), Dun (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Unidentified Pottery

Site Name Canna, Coroghan Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Dun (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Unidentified Pottery

Alternative Name(s) Coroghon Castle; Coroghon Mor; An Coroghon

Canmore ID 10709

Site Number NG20NE 4

NGR NG 2796 0552

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2023.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

First 100 images shown. See the Collections panel (below) for a link to all digital images.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Small Isles
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Recording Your Heritage Online


Area comprising the farm and laird's house at the east end of the island.

An Coroghon, probably 17th century Remains of a tower on a flat-topped stack, a place of refuge later used as a prison. It was described by Pennant in 1772 as '... a lofty slender rock, that juts into the sea: on one side is a little tower, at a vast height above us, accessible by a narrow and horrible path: it seems so small as scarce to be able to contain half a dozen people'. A lintelled entrance survives in the mortared wall.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NG20NE 4 2796 0552

(NG 2796 0552). A 'castle' built on a stack (Coroghon Mor) rising 70-80ft sheer above the sea on three sides and linked to the land by a narrow neck, where ascent of the stack is possible by a track which leads upwards to a roughly rectangular forework of at least two storeys.

The crag was mentioned as a 'refuge' in 1577-95, but no building was referred to, so it may be assumed that the building is post-16th century (W G Collingwood 1906). Appears to be a gatehouse added to a dun (OS 6"map, annotated A L F Rivet 20 June 1961).

D Monro 1884; W Collingwood 1906; RCAHMS 1928.

A small stronghold rather than a castle, built against the N-facing crag of Coroghon Mor. The building is an entity in itself and there is no trace of a dun as suggested by Rivet, nor of any other work.

With walls generally 0.7m thick, the building is constructed of random masonry and utilises the rock face as part of its S and E walls. The high curving N wall is pierced near its E end by a doorway 0.6m wide at the head of a steep path up the crag.

The main room occupies the W half of the castle and measures internally 3.0m N-S by 2.0m with a doorway 0.6m wide towards the S end of its E wall. Under it is a cellar of similar dimensions.

The 'basin' shown on Collingwood's plan is an apparently rock-cut hollow 3.5m x 2.0m by 0.3m deep, of uncertain purpose. The 'pit' is a natural hollow.

Campbell (Mr J L Campbell, Canna House) states that undecorated hand-made pottery sherds in his possession were found at the foot of the crag below the castle.

Visited by OS (A A), 1 June 1972.

On the top of a rock stack, reached by a very steep path. Rubbly remains of a roughly rectangular small tower, probably of the 17th century.

J Gifford 1992.


Field Visit (6 July 1925)

Coroghon Castle.

The Coroghon Mor is a stack of agglomerate ¼ mile north-east of Canna Pier, rising 70 to 80 feet sheer above the sea in three sides and linked to the land by a narrow neck rising 25 feet above the shore. At this neck ascent of the stack has been possible by a narrow and dangerous track, which leads upward to a forework of at least two storeys, roughly rectangular and constructed in stone and lime; the entrance lintel is a stout oak beam. Beside the entrance is a small opening like a gunloop, and there is another, but on an upper storey in the return wall facing south-west. (Figs. 309, 311.)

Cf. Description of the Isles of Scotland, c. 1577-95, given in Celtic Scotland, Skene, iii., p. 434. The passage describes the "heich craig callit Corignan" as a refuge, but mentions no building; the existing structure is therefore subsequent to the end of the sixteenth century.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 6 July 1925.

OS map: Islands of Rum, Sanday, etc. (Inverness-shire), ix (unnoted).

Measured Survey (8 June 1994)

RCAHMS surveyed Coroghan Castle, Canna on 8 June 1994 at a scale of 1:100. The plans and section were redrawn in ink, and the ground- and first-floor plans were published in RCAHMS Canna broadsheet (1999). The survey drawings were also used as the basis for an illustration that was published in 2016 (Hunter, fig. 2.32).

Aerial Photography (2 September 1994)

Field Visit (21 August 1996)

Coroghon Castle stands on top of a stack at the SE end of the cliffs which form the E end of Canna. The stack juts out into the sea, and is accessible only by a steep path which ascends a narrow neck of land connecting it to the mainland. The castle is traditionally held to have been a prison, used in the late seventeenth century by a jealous husband to confine his wife; Campbell associates this tradition with Donald MacDonald of Clanranald and his wife Marion MacLeod. The castle is illustrated by Pennant at the end of the eighteenth century; it is shown roofless, but still stands several metres in height.

The surviving portion of the castle occupies the NW angle of the stack's summit, overlooking the approach from the mainland. Built of random rubble, natural rock-faces have been incorporated into its structure to form the walls of internal compartments. A narrow doorway with a dressed stone lintel in its N wall gave access to a small antechamber, and a bar-hole 1.1m deep is visible on its W side. To the rear of this antechamber, opposite the entrance, a series of four rock-cut steps provided access to the upper floor, which comprised two main rooms. The first was directly above and was subdivided into two smaller chambers by a partition wall; at some stage, the northern of the two chambers appears to have been roofed independently, and traces of its pitched roof-line can still be seen on the E face of the main surviving internal wall. The second room on the upper floor, which is the larger, lies on the W and was entered by a gap at the S end of the main internal wall. There are five narrow openings through its N and W walls, all of which are at slightly different heights. A cellar of narrower dimensions lies below this room and has two openings, one in the N wall and one in the W. It is unclear how access was gained to the cellar but it may have been by a trapdoor in the floor of the main upper room.

Little evidence of any other features are visible on the stack, but, given the presence of other forts and duns on the island, it is inconceivable that this impregnable position was not fortified at an earlier date.

Visited by RCAHMS (ARG), 21 August 1996

T Pennant 1790; J L Campbell 1984.

Standing Building Recording (11 August 2008 - 14 August 2008)

NG 2796 0552

A historic building survey of the ruins of Coroghan Castle was undertaken by Headland Archaeology Ltd, 11–14 August 2008, prior to possible consolidation work. The ruin which is roofless and deteriorating is located at the E end of Canna, on the NW side of a c25m high stack. Large sections of the facing stones along the base of the outer walls are missing and a deep crack has opened in one of the walls. The location and design of the building indicate that it was built as a defensive structure that turned the stack into a well defended position.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: National Trust for Scotland

Laser Scanning (3 May 2011 - 5 May 2011)

A laser scan survey of the exterior of Coroghan Castle was carried out in 2011


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions