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Torran, Caol Chaoruinn

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Torran, Caol Chaoruinn

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Canmore ID 22795

Site Number NM80SE 36

NGR NM 8783 0449

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilmartin
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM80SE 36 8783 0449.

NM 877 045. ? Castle, Caol Chaorunn. On a headland at the N side of the entrance to An Lodan (lagoon), a mound planted with large trees at the edges was found to be a rectangle, 60' by 50', with two internal divisions and possibly the footings of a small round tower over- looking the loch. A large oval enclosure is traceable at the NE of the rectangle.

The ground plan suggests a castle (? motte and bailey), which would control landings and access to the Ford/Carnasserie and Ford/Salachry/Kintraw passes. It might be connected with the Lordship of Glassary, erected under charter from Alexander II, 1240.

M Campbell and M Sandeman 1964.

NM 8784 0448. Occupying a heavily overgrown knoll are the remains of a building 14.5m square externally and consisting of a wall of roughly coursed mortared masonry 1.7m thick in the SW.

At this point the outer face stands 1.6m high but elsewhere only intermittent stretches of outer face are visible. There are no internal divisions.

This is not a motte and bailey but may be the remains of a fortified house or tower.

The ruinous walled enclosure to the NE does not appear to be associated with the building and is probably of later date.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (J P) 27 October 1971.


Field Visit (September 1984)

The slight remains of a probable fortified dwelling of late medieval date are situated on the N shore of the narrows of Caol Chaorann, where the SW extremity of Loch Awe is contracted to form the sheltered bay known as An Lodan. The site occupies the summit of a rock-outcrop some 13mabove the level of the loch. Much of the ground to the N and W has formerly been cultivated, and parts of the site are overlain by field-clearance material.

The summit of the outcrop measures about 20m by 16m, and its SW half has been occupied by a substantial rectangular building measuring about 14.5m from NE to SW by 7m transversely over all. The best-preserved length of masonry runs for 10m along the SW edge of the outcrop, terminating at the SE in what appears to have been a tower, perhaps a garderobe, 3m in projection and 4.5m in width. The SE wall of this tower is 0.75m thick, but the walls of the main building, although their inner faces are obscured, appear to have been considerably more massive. Some lime mortar is visible in the masonry at the re-entrant angle of the tower, which survives to a height of several courses, and there are also some remains of external harling in the same area.

The SE edge of the outcrop is obscured by several massive trees, and to the NW only intermittent footings are visible, but the walling appears to have enclosed a courtyard reached by a track from the NE. A short length of wall-face indicates a possible subdivision within this enclosure, but the surface remains are extremely confused. The shoreward edge of a lower terrace to the SE has been artificially revetted, continuing the line of a natural rock face, but there is no evidence of an enclosing wall. The existing remains of an enclosure on this terrace, formed by drystone walling linking outcrops of rock, appear to be of agricultural origin. On the shore to the SW there is the ruin of a small boat-house, probably of 19th-century date, and some remains of a former jetty.

The siting and character of these remains are comparable with those of Ardfad Castle, Seil and Caisteal nan Con, Torsa, both in Lorn (en.1), and a 16th- or early 17th-century date may be tentatively suggested. No documentary references to the site have been identified, but it appears from Roy's Map to have been on the lands of Torran Mor, whose dwellings occupied the site of the present Torran farm. The property of 'Mekill Torrane' was granted by the Campbells of Argyll to Sir John Campbell of Calder in 1529, and sold by his grandson in 1574 to John Campbell of Inverliever, whose son Alexander Campbell of Torran held the property in 1603 (en.2).

RCAHMS 1992, visited September 1984


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