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Ormsaigbeg, Caisteal Dubh Nan Cliar

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Ormsaigbeg, Caisteal Dubh Nan Cliar

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Casteal Dubh Nan Clair

Canmore ID 22129

Site Number NM46SE 2

NGR NM 4733 6313

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Ardnamurchan
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Argyll

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Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (black castle of the minstrels), 16th century A rocky lump commanding the entrance to Kilchoan Bay, probably once a two-storey tower built as an outpost for Mingary Castle. Remains are scant, but include a tiny chamber beneath an overhanging lip of rock with masonry walls and a slab roof.

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

Archaeology Notes

NM46SE 2 4733 6313

(NM 4733 6313) Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (NAT)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1974)

Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (NR) (Remains of)

OS 6"map, Argyllshire, 2nd ed., (1902)

Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar (name confirmed locally) is of uncertain purpose, but it is probably a fisherman's hut or store of no great age, as the adjacent gully is entirely suited as a boat noost.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

M E M Donaldson 1923; Visited by OS (N K B) 5 June 1970.

Caisteal Dubh nan Cliar: This building occupies the summit of a small rocky knoll immediately above the NW foreshore of Kilchoan Bay. The structure is now extremely ruinous and its original form is uncertain, but it probably comprised a small two-storeyed tower of irregular plan measuring about 5.5m from NW to SE by 4.6m transversely. Beneath the SW portion of the tower a chamber has been formed by enclosing an overhanging lip of rock with a wall of masonry on three sides. This chamber measures about 3.1m by 2.2m and the roof, which comprises slab-lintels supported on corbel-courses, rises to a height of about 1.8m. In the SE wall there are the remains of a rebated entrance-doorway, which appears to have been secured by a draw-bar. All the masonry is of random rubble bound together by coarse lime-mortar. The age of this building is uncertain, but it may tentatively be ascribed to the 16th or 17th century. It seems too small to have been a permanent residence, and it is possible that it served as an outpost of Mingary Castle, (NM56SW 1) securing the anchorage is Kilchoan Bay. In 1838 (New Statistical Account [NSA] 1845) it was described as 'the remains of a very small tower, dignified by the name of "Castial due nan Clior", the black Castle of the Minstrels'.

NSA 1845; RCAHMS 1980, visited 1971.


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