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Lismore, Achadun Castle

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Lismore, Achadun Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Achanduin Castle; Acha-dun

Canmore ID 23018

Site Number NM83NW 3

NGR NM 80432 39270

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Lismore And Appin (Argyll And Bute)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM83NW 3 80432 39270.

(NM 80433927) Achadun Castle (NR) (Remains of)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1975)

The ruinous remains of the 13th century castle of the bishops of Argyll occupy the summit of a prominent limestone ridge near the western shore of Lismore.

The SW and SE walls have collapsed outward, but the NE wall and a substantial part of the NW wall survive to a maximum height of 6.7 metres. This curtain wall, varying in thickness from 1.4 to 2.4 metres, encloses an area measuring about 22 metres square which has contained at least two ranges of buildings flanking a small courtyard, the SE range having been particularly substantial, measuring 7.6 metres in internal width and comprising a ground floor and an upper floor. The NW wall of this range measures 1.6 metres in thickness at ground level.

Although largely buried under rubble, it still stands to a maximum height of 2 metres. Excavations in 1970 and 1971 have revealed two doorways leading into this range from the courtyard.

Information from D J Turner.

A second, smaller range occupied the north angle of the courtyard, but it appears to have been a less substantial structure than the SE range and no traces of inner walls survive, but two window embrasures survive at first floor level in the NE curtain wall.

The landward entrance is centrally placed in the NE curtain wall. It is, however, badly damaged, but the lowest courses of the NW ingo and part of a draw-bar socket survive. From this entrance, a straight, mural stairway, which retains most of its stone treads, gave access to a parapet walk.

A second entrance gateway is located at the SW. This has an internal width of 1.4 metres and a draw-bar socket in the NE ingo is still clearly visible. The approach to this entrance from outside was facilitated by a stone-built platform which, on excavation, was found

to incorporate a deep pit, 2.2 metres square, and evidently designed to contain a movable platform or bridge.

The remains of a sub-rectangular building of dry stone masonry, occupying the NE part of the courtyard and partially overlying the NW range, were excavated in 1971, and were evidently of late date. Excavation finds from the site show recurrent occupation throughout the late medieval period. The construction by Bishop David Hamilton of his castle at Saddell, about 1508-12, effectively terminated the occupation of Achadun as an episcopal residence and thereafter it probably fell into a state of decay.

RCAHMS 1975, visited August 1973.

As described.

Surveyed at 1:10 000 scale.

Visited by OS (R D) 22 November 1971.

A mason's mark was recorded by R A Fresson and noted by W A Bartlam, September 2000, on the lintel over the castle latrine chute discharge aperture. Fresson and Bartlam also noted that they could not locate the 'two [masons' marks] described by Cherry and Webster despite careful searching'.

NMRS MS/1055; Webster and Cherry, 1973


Fabric Recording (2015)

NM 80430 39270 (Canmore ID: 23018) The upstanding masonry of Achadun Castle was analysed and a number of building and environmental materials recorded and sampled in 2015, as part of the Scottish Medieval Castles and Chapels C14 Project (for details see: Aros Castle entry). These materials are undergoing further analysis and, where appropriate, will be AMS radiocarbon dated.

Archive: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) intended

Funder: Historic Scotland

Mark Thacker - University of Edinburgh

(Source: DES, Volume 16)


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