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Caisteal Nan Con

Fort (Period Unassigned), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Caisteal Nan Con

Classification Fort (Period Unassigned), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Killundine Castle

Canmore ID 22258

Site Number NM54NE 3

NGR NM 5839 4864

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/22258

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Administrative Areas

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

Recording Your Heritage Online

Caisteal nan Con (Castle of the Hounds - formerly known as Dungaul), c.1670 Rectangular ruin surmounting the knuckle of a small promontory, the site of an Iron Age fort. Bearing no evidence of a pre-17th-century date, it appears to have been a three-storeyed hall house rather than a defensive tower, built, it is said, by Allan Maclean, tacksman of Killundine. Only the south gable rises still to full height. Beside the off-centred entrance on the west wall projected a bowed stairtower (only the lower portions survive), giving access to living quarters at the south end - a room with a fireplace on each floor. Typically, most of the ground floor was unheated and used for storage. The building is believed to have been abandoned soon after a government man-of-war attacked Jacobite rebels garrisoned here in 1719.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press http://www.rias.org.uk

Archaeology Notes

NM54NE 3 5839 4864.

(NM 5839 4864) Caisteal nan Con (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

Caisteal nan Con: This 17th century building stands within the remains of a prehistoric fort (infra) on a promontory close to the E shore of the Sound of Mull. It comprises a rectangular block, measuring 18.1m from NW to SE by 7.3m transversely over walls 0.9m thick, constructed of rubble masonry, bonded in coarse lime mortar with many pinnings. The principal door- and window-dressings have been extensively robbed. Only the SE portion of the building is preserved to its full height of three storeys, the remainder standing to no more than first-floor level. The ground floor was divided into three rooms.

Adjacent to the NW wall of the castle there was an annexe or enclosure of irregular plan, now reduced to its foundations. Some 50m to the N, at the neck of the promontory, there are the remains of a dry-stone building measuring 9.1m by 6.1m over walls 0.9m thick. This may have been in use at the same period as the main building, as may have been a tidal fish-trap in the bay whose W side is formed by the promontory on which the castle stands.

Despite its traditional identification as a hunting-lodge associated with Aros Castle (NM54SE 1), a residence of the Lords of the Isles, there is no evidence of medieval occupation at this site. The lands of Killundine were specially excepted from the general grant of the MacLean of Duart estate in Morvern to tacksmen in 1637, but the existing building probably dates from the second half of the 17th century, and was perhaps erected by Allan M'Ean vic Ewin MacLean, who is on record as tacksman of Killundine in 1671 and 1675. It was probably derelict by about 1750, when it was indicated but not named on Roy's Map. (Gaskell (1968) states that it is also called Killundine Castle.)

The fort has been defended by two walls, the innermost of which encloses a roughly D-shaped area measuring about 50m by 20m. The wall has been severely robbed, and except on the W, where it appears as a low stony bank about 2m in average thickness, it has been reduced to an intermittent scatter of grass-covered debris in which the occasional stretch or individual stone of the outer face has survived in situ. At one point on the NE a a particularly well-preserved stretch has been re-used as the foundation of the wall of Caisteal nan Con. The entrance, 1.8m in width externally, is on the NW, the outer jambs being formed by two particularly massive blocks. Access to the summit may also be obtained at present by way of a narrow path at the SE end of the knoll, but this approach is probably of recent date, as is the grass-grown mound that partly overlies the line of the fort wall near the middle of the S side. On the date of visit much of the W half of the interior was obscured by thorn bushes, which appeared to mask the remains of a sub-circular enclosure of no great age.

The outer wall has been drawn across the level neck of the promontory at the foot of the knoll occupied by the main work and continued thence along the whole of its NE flank, following a natural crest-line. On the NW in particular the external face of the wall has incorporated boulders of considerable size, which, since most of the smaller facing stones and core-material have been robbed away, now survive as isolated blocks projecting from a light scatter of stony debris; for a distance of 15 m on the NNE the work has been reduced to a mere scarp, while further to the SE the surviving stones of the outer face are almost totally obscured by a mass of debris which has tumbled from the wall above. Immediately to the SW of the entrance, which is situated on the NW opposite that of the main enclosure, a short length has been obliterated by a sub-rectangular enclosure of no great age. The relatively low-lying position of the outer wall and the size of the material used in its construction are paralleled on several other defensive sites in North Argyll.

P Gaskell 1968; RCAHMS 1980.

The remains at this site were in a similar condition when seen in 1970.

Surveyed at 1:10,000.

Visited by OS (A A) 15 June 1970.

Activities

Field Visit (July 1943)

This site was recorded as part of the RCAHMS Emergency Survey, undertaken by Angus Graham and Vere Gordon Childe during World War 2. The project archive has been catalogued during 2013-2014 and the material, which includes notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts, plans and photographs, is now available online.

Information from RCAHMS (GF Geddes) 2 December 2014.

Field Visit (14 April 2007 - 14 May 2007)

NM 58400 48675, NM 58381 48692 and NM 58341 48711

A visit to the scheduled site of Caisteal nan Con (NM54NE 3), a 17th-century tower house on the site of an earlier fort, identified the remains of three structures not included in the RCAHMS report. Sites indentified were:

Structures associated with Caisteal nan Con

NM 58400 48675

Boulder footings of a roughly rectangular structure with dimensions of 4.1 x 2.8m, and wall width of 0.6m.

NM 58381 48692

Boulder footings of a roughly oval structure with dimensions of 4.8 x 3.4m, and wall width from 0.6-1m.

NM 58341 48711

Remains of small rectangular structure which is heavily over grown with grasses and moss with dimensions of 1.5 x 1.8m.

Report to be deposited with RCAHMS and Highland SMR in due course.

Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and The Caledonian Research Foundation.

A Bankier and S Digney 21007

Note (13 November 2014 - 9 August 2016)

This fort is situated on the rocky hillock that forms the seaward end of a promontory on the SW side of a shallow bay, and is also the site of a ruined 17th century tower-house, which occupies the NE side of the interior. Irregular on plan, the interior measures about 50m from ESE to WNW by 20m transversely within a wall largely reduced to a thin band of rubble with a few runs of outer face. This can be traced round the lip of the summit and beneath the foundations of the NE wall of the tower-house, and there is an entrance on the NW, where two large blocks set 1.8m apart form the outer jambs. Apart from the tower-house, and a relatively recent mound of debris on the S, the interior is featureless. In addition to the inner defence around the summit of the hillock, there is also a wall incorporating massive boulders in its face cutting across the low-lying neck of the promontory on the NW and returning along the NE flank where the shore of the bay dries out at low water. Its entrance probably also lies on the NW, adjacent to a relatively recent rectangular enclosure built across the line of the wall.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 09 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC2529

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