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Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Tarbet

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Tarbet Castle; Clattochmore

Canmore ID 23817

Site Number NN30SW 1

NGR NN 3204 0479

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Arrochar
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Dumbarton
  • Former County Dunbartonshire

Archaeology Notes

NN30SW 1 3204 0479.

Castle at Tarbet - A residence of the chief of the Clan MacFarlane, after his principal stronghold at Inveruglas (NN30NW 2) was destroyed in Cromwell's time. It is said that Robert the Bruce erected a castle here.

J Irving 1879.

The original house of the chief of the MacFarlanes of Arrochar on the mainland stood at Tarbet, within a few hundred yards of the banks of Loch Lomond. The site is called Clattochmore. No part of the building now remains, except portions of the foundations, which, although level with the ground, can still be traced. After the slaughter of Sir Humphrey Colquhoun in the castle of Bannachra, the chief of the MacFarlanes fled to this house at Tarbet (in 1592.)

W Fraser 1869.

NN 3204 0479. The manse stands on the area of ground called Clattochmore, but there is no knowledge, or any trace, of this castle.

Visited by OS (J L D) 3 October 1956; Information from Rev I Reid, Manse, Tarbet.

No further information.

Visited by OS (J P) 15 March 1973.

NN c.320 047 There was a castle at Tarbet in 1592. The site is said to be in the area now occupied by the manse.

RCAHMS 1978, visited April 1978

W Fraser 1869; J Irving 1879


Ground Survey (9 February 2013 - 8 September 2013)

NN 3086 0427 The Hidden Heritage of a Landscape Project is a community-led project which explored, 9 February – 8 September 2013, the archaeological landscape of the 2.5km long isthmus between Arrochar on Loch Long and Tarbert on Loch Lomond. The project enabled the local community to explore the archaeological potential within the isthmus, with

a special interest in the Viking raid into Loch Lomond in 1263.

The project involved looking at aerial photographs, historic map research, documentary research, geophysics, walkover survey, digital survey, hand measured survey, excavation and post-excavation processing.

The walkover survey recorded a total of 204 new features, the majority of which related to post-medieval enclosure and farming practices. The features included the remains of a ninehole golf course, a demolished steading, a duck pond, earth banks, drains, dry stone walls, clearance cairns, cultivation, bridges, culverts, a gate, a hollow-way, an iron cauldron, peat cutting, quarries, a sheep fank and a shieling.

Three geophysical surveys were carried out. At the Arrochar School playing field (in Tarbert) a modern service pipe, several slight linear anomalies and some concrete settings were found. Other slight circular features may be geology.

A large oval shaped mound near the Cenotaph Cross produced anolamies which related to modern ironwork and geology. A figure-of-eight shaped enclosure at Stuckiedhu showed up in the geophysical survey as a coherent positive response and other anomalies were interpreted as ditches, a quarry face and geology.

A plane table survey of a sheep fank (Site 127) was carried out by the community at NN 30580 03877.

A digital survey was also carried out at the Ballyhennan churchyard (NN30SW 2 at NN 31332 04529).

Five weeks of excavation concentrated on four mains sites.

Craig an’t Searraich (NN30SW 13 at NN 307 043) was a settlement deserted by the mid-19th century. The rough dry stone walls of the house survived up to three courses high and were sealed by rubble which formed a fairly flat terrace. An internal rough cobbled surface was partly revealed and the pottery retrieved from above the surface was 19th-century in

date. The state of the walls suggested that the house had been deliberately demolished. A second structure was investigated and thought to be an animal enclosure. A section was cut through the enclosing bank, but no dating evidence was retrieved.

Clattochmore (or Tarbet Castle NN30SW 1 at NN 3204 0479) was the location of a house belonging to the MacFarlane chief which was destroyed by Cromwell’s army. The house was thought to be in the vicinity of the old manse, now Grange House. Four trenches were dug in the garden

of the Manse but no features pre-dating the late 18th/19th century were found.

The Arrochar Primary School Playing Field (NN 3206 70471) lies just S of Clattochmore and, following a test trench, which found flint and quartz flakes, a further two trenches were excavated to retrieve artefacts and to investigate geophysical anomalies. Only natural features were found but

the ploughsoil contained flint and quartz debitage, a few worked flakes, an amber bead (possibly a lammer bead), a 17th-/18th-century lead pistol ball, a black glass bead, clay pipe fragments and post-medieval pottery and glass.

Stuckiedhu (NN30SW 11 at NN 3129 0423) A figure-of-eight shaped enclosure containing two probably natural mounds was investigated. Within the southern mound was a hollow or possible hut circle. The figure of eight enclosure consisted of a stone revetted bank designed to keep stock out. The presence of mixed woodland on the 1st Edition OS map and the late 18th-/19th-century date of the pottery, would suggest that this was a designed landscape feature perhaps associated with the development of Tarbet Hotel.

A trench across the putative hut circle revealed a very slight earth bank, but no internal features which would have indicated that it was more than a hollow. The finds included slag and industrial waste, a clay pipe stem, postmedieval pottery and glass. The platforms in the vicinity were interpreted as remains of the nine-hole golf course.

Cenotaph Mound (Site 197, NN 30239 04031) A small trench was dug over the Cenotaph Mound, also known as the Viking Mound and it was found to be a natural glacial mound.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Arrochar and Tarbet Community Development Trust

Heather James - Northlight Heritage

(Source: DES)


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