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Elcho Castle

Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Elcho Castle

Classification Tower House (Medieval)

Canmore ID 28197

Site Number NO12SE 11

NGR NO 16438 21083

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/28197

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images


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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Rhynd
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NO12SE 11.00 16438 21083

NO12SE 11.01 16327 20918 Dovecot

NO12SE 11.02 16449 21058 Custodians House/Lodge

(NO 1643 2107) Elcho Castle (NR)

OS 6" map, Perthshire, 2nd ed., (1902)

For Wallace's Well (at NO 1646 2102), see NO12SE 10. For farmhouse (NO 1628 2087) and steading (NO 1632 2085) of Elcho Farm, see NO12SE 34.00 and NO12SE 34.01 respectively.

Elcho Castle of the period 1540-1700, is an example of the transition between the keep and the mansion. It was undoubtedly surrounded with walls, and probably had a ditch outside. The only remaining evidence of the wall is a round tower about 70 yards SW of the castle. There seems to have been an earlier castle at Elcho, associated with Wallace, according to Blind Harry. A canal or ditch formerly connected the castle with the River Tay, about 150 yards distant, and ended in a quarry.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; A H Millar 1890.

Among the most perfect and well-preserved of the later tower-houses.

S Toy 1953.

NO 1644 2108. Generally as described and planned above, but to the SW more of the enclosing wall has been uncovered by MoW.

There is no trace of the canal linking the quarry immediately north of the castle and the River Tay, but the inlet at NO 1654 2117 appears to be artificial and the custodian at the castle says that there had been a pier there which had been used up to comparatively recent times. There is no trace of an earlier castle near the site.

Visited by OS (R D L) 11 June 1964.

The rounded SE corner tower, consisting of a domed oven and adjoining fireplace at ground floor level, and surmounted by two small apartments, is one of the few surviving fragments of barmkin wall at Elcho. The brief excavation, in advance of consolidation, uncovered the original floor level of burnt clay and flagstone outside the oven, some 0.8m below the existing ground level. The oven itself was 2.1m in diameter by 1.5m high, with its threshold set 0.7m above the original ground level. All the excavated deposits were of recent origin, probably associated with the construction of the adjoining custodian's cottage earlier this century.

J Cannell 1987.

This tower-house has recently undergone large-scale refurbishment. It is in the care of Historic Scotland and open to the public.

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS), 10 December 1996.

NO 1643 2107 Monitoring was undertaken during the digging of fence post-holes around a new car park just to the S of the late medieval Elcho Castle, on the S shore of the River Tay. The holes were dug close to a ditch and bank visible as a surface feature running down the W side of the road to the castle. No significant deposits or artefacts were found.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Murray 1998

NO 1643 2107 During March 1999 the digging of 93 tree holes in the orchard to the W of Elcho Castle was monitored. Charcoal flecks were noted throughout the topsoil horizon, and a small assemblage of china was noted (but not retained). Below this was a light brown to light grey fine clayey silt.

A small trench was also dug against the fence on the E side of the field, to allow the installation of a new gate. Only topsoil and the concrete bases of the existing fence were noted.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

D Murray 1999

Architecture Notes

NO12SE 11.00 16438 21083

NMRS Printroom

Historic Postcard Insc: "Elcho Castle, Perth"

Potstmarked (19) '05'

Acc No 1993/149

Missing at time of upgrade, 11.5.2000.

NMRS Printroom.

W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection

Acc No 1997/39

2 views 3 prints

Activities

Watching Brief (4 March 1998)

Kirkdale Archaeology were asked to monitor the digging of three fence post holes around a new car park just to the South of Elcho castle. The fence holes were to be dug around an expansion to the existing car park, close to a ditch and bank visible as a surface feature running down the West side of the road to the castle.

All three holes were some 30 - 35 cm square, and reached a depth of 100 cm. Each produced a similar sequence, with the top 50 cm being a fine light grey, slightly clayey silt, with some charcoal and small rounded stones throughout, above a fine, pale orange, slightly clayey silt. No artefactual material was recovered. This seems likely to represent a plough soil horizon, of indeterminate age, above natural subsoil.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Murray 1998

Kirkdale Archaeology 1998

Watching Brief (8 March 1999 - 9 March 1999)

During March 1999 Kirkdale Archaeology were asked to monitor the digging of 93 tree holes in the orchard just to the W of Elcho Castle (NO 164 211). Both orchard and castle are located on a terrrace on the S side of the Tay, at some 15m.

The holes were roughly square, averaging 600mm across, by 400mm deep. They all revealed a topsoil some 150-200mm thick, which was a clayey silt, dark grey towards the NE of the field, while tending towards an orange-yellow in the SW. Charcoal flecks were noted throughout this horizon, and a small assemblage of china was noted (but not retained). Below this was a light brown - light grey fine clayey silt. A small trench was also dug against the fence on the E side of the field, to allow the installation of a new gate. This measured 600mm E-W, by 2.40m N-S, by 100-150mm deep. Only topsoil and the concrete bases of the existing fence were noted in this trench, which was backfilled, to be re- excavated when required.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland.

D Murray 1999

Kirkdale Archaeology

Excavation (15 February 2006 - 20 February 2006)

Under the terms of its call-off contract with Historic Scotland, Kirkdale Archaeology was asked to undertake a short period of archaeological monitoring at Elcho Castle while Historic Scotland MCU personnel excavated shallow trenches for services to and from the wooden hut SW of the Custodian’s Cottage. Plans were not available of the existing arrangement of services or of the positioning of the trenches associated with the current work. This meant that several trenches had to be dug to locate the present arrangement of water supply and associated pipes and drains. A total of 28m of trenching was excavated in order to instate the new services.

This area of the castle is of particular interest as it is in the vicinity of the Southeast Tower, which has a projecting stub of wall running W from it. This appears to be the remains of the barmkin of a substantial courtyard across the line of which the trenches would run. There was therefore the possibility of finding in situ masonry associated with this feature. It was already apparent that the area was much disturbed as several water, drainage and electricity services had been installed during the 19th & 20th centuries, while a stone pathway shored with wooden planks had truncated and disturbed the upper deposits in the 20th century.

There were no finds or features of particular archaeological significance during these works. The green glaze pottery is of 16th- to 17th-century date but came from a mixed and/or redeposited context. Trenching failed to reveal any further remains of the E-W barmkin suggested by the stub of wall returning from the SE Tower. Although extensive trenching was undertaken, its depth never exceeded 400mm in the area of the wall line of the barmkin and it only crossed this line in Trenches 1 and 2 and only for 300mm width in each. With the closely cropping bedrock, a modern path, the current arrangement of services replacing a previous arrangement (with their associated ground disturbance) and it is unsurprising that there was no evidence of the courtyard barmkin.

G Ewart 2006

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

Kirkdale Archaeology

Watching Brief (25 May 2012)

NO 1642 2103 A watching brief was undertaken on 25 May 2012 during the excavation of a trench for a new information board. The trench was located at the NE end of the visitor car park. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox, Kirkdale Archaeology

2012

OASIS ID: kirkdale1-310849

Watching Brief (7 May 2014)

An archaeological watching brief was undertaken during the excavation of a trench to house a new information board. There were no finds or features of archaeological significance.

Gordon Ewart 2014

OASIS ID - kirkdale1-196111

References

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