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Lismore, Castle Coeffin

Castle (Medieval), Hall House (Medieval)

Site Name Lismore, Castle Coeffin

Classification Castle (Medieval), Hall House (Medieval)

Canmore ID 23093

Site Number NM84SE 2

NGR NM 85365 43772

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

NM84SE 2 85365 43772

NM84SE 2. 01 Cancelled: see NM84SE 60.

For fort and cultivation remains at NM 8549 4387, see NM84SE 15.

For fish trap at NM 854 437, see NM84SE 60.

(NM 8537 4377) Castle Coeffin (NR) (Remains of)

OS 1:10,000 map, (1976)

The remains of Castle Coeffin, which comprise an oblong hall-house and an irregularly shaped bailey, stand on the summit of a small, rocky promontary on the NW coast of Lismore. All the buildings are ruinous and there are no closely datable features, but on typological grounds, the hall may be ascribed to the 13th century. Most of the bailey appears to be of a later date, though some portions of it may be of the same period as the hall-house. The site, a small, narrow promontary, has governed the shape of the hall-house building which is an irregular oblong measuring 20.3 metres from NE to SW and 10.4 metres transversely over walls 2.1 to 2.4 metres thick. The rounding off of the north angle may be associated with the reconstruction of the mural staircase in that corner, which was probably square cut originally. The principal doorway was situated in the NE wall and was probably approached from the bailey by an outside stairway. A second doorway, which contains a draw-bar socket, was located in the SW and gave access to the shore. A third doorway, probably used as a hoisting-door for stores, was situated in the centre of the NW wall.

The bailey appears to have been designed principally to protect the main entrance, but the precise nature of the defences cannot now be deduced. The entrance was on the NE side from which steps rose towards the main doorway of the hall-house. Evidence of a mural chamber can be seen in the NE portion of the bailey wall. The bay to the SE of the castle contains a tidal fish-trap of unknown age.

Castle Coeffin was probably erected by one of the MacDougall's of Lorn within whose lordship the island of Lismore occupied a position of political and strategic importance. Its site lay close to the diocesan cathedral which is known to have been established on the island in the late 12th or early 13th century. The castle changed hands many times in its earlier years, but the first identifiable reference to it in written records is dated 1469-70 when Colin, the first earl of Argyll, granted part of Lismore, including the castle, to his uncle, Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. It remained in the possession of the Campbells of Glenorchy until the 18th century, but there is no evidence to suggest it was occupied in post-medieval times.

RCAHMS 1975, visited July 1970.

As described.

Surveyed at 1:2500 scale.

Visited by OS (DWR) 11 August 1976.

Architecture Notes

Lismore, Castle Coeffin.


Country Life 9th May 1952 - photograph.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Fabric Recording (2015)

NM 85360 43770 (Canmore ID: 23093) The upstanding masonry of Coeffin 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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