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Loch Of Clunie

Chapel (Medieval), Crannog (Period Unknown)(Possible), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Loch Of Clunie

Classification Chapel (Medieval), Crannog (Period Unknown)(Possible), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Clunie Castle; St Catherine's Chapel; Loch Of Cluny; Castle Island

Canmore ID 28959

Site Number NO14SW 4

NGR NO 11320 44015

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes (1991)

A low retaining wall around most of the island appears to be sitting on a mound of boulders very similar to the foundation levels seen on many other Scottish artificial islands. It is quite possible that the later castle sits on the remains of a much earlier site that may date back to prehistoric times.

The hydrograph was used to take underwater profiles out from the edge of the island which show that it lies on the edge of the slope into deeper water. The position accords with the siting of other crannogs and supports the impression that the island is wholly artificial.

Underwater survey around the edge of the island was hampered by many fallen trees in the water.

T N Dixon 1991.

Archaeology Notes

NO14SW 4.00 11320 44015.

NO14SW 4.01 NO 11140 43964 Clunie old boathouse

(NO 1132 4402) Clunie Castle (NR) and site of St Catherine's Chapel (NR)

OS 6" map, Perthshire (1959)

For nearby Clunie, Castle Hill, see NO14SW 5.

The site of St Catherine's Chapel (there are no visible remains) is stated to be where the castle kitchen now stands. Human bones have been dug up in several places nearby.

Name Book 1865

Clunie Castle is a simple and well-preserved structure built on the L-plan. It is stated to have been built by Bishop Brown of Dunkeld between 1485 and 1514 as a retreat. The walls may possibly be those erected by Bishop Brown but the outward and inward character of the building is now that of an ordinary L-shaped house of the 4th Period (1542-1700).

The island on which the building is situated is said to be artificial, but bearing a mansion with walls 5' thick this is problematical. The castle was restored about the end of the 18th century.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889; N Tranter 1963


Field Visit (4 November 1975)

Clunie Castle (name verified), a 16th - 17th century L- shaped tower-house, as described by MacGibbon and Ross, but gutted by fire in recent years, and is now reduced to a decaying, roofless shell. The 18th c restorations include larger window insertions, internal modifications, and the addition of a kitchen range on the N side; the latter is presumably on the site of St Catherine's Chapel, of which nothing remains.

A dry-stone retaining wall of indeterminate age encircles the island. Whether the island is entirely artificial or not is uncertain.

Revised at 25"

Visited by OS (NKB) 4 November 1975

Field Visit (17 October 1989)

On an island in Loch of Clunie there is an L-plan tower-house of late 15th- to early 16th-century date. It consists of a main block of three principal storeys and a wing of five. The entrance, which was protected by a high-level machicolation, is in the SE re-entrant angle and opens on to a newel stair. The vaulted ground floor of the main block was originally lit by a series of slit windows and entered from the E; the large kitchen fireplace, and a straight-flighted mural stair in the N wall (for which there is now only external evidence) seem to have provided independent access both to the first-floor hall and to an adjoining chamber in the adjoining wing. In the mid to late 16th century the building was remodelled; additional fireplaces were introduced and pedimented half-dormers were added to the W front. Subsequent alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries included extensive renovations to the upper side-walls of the main block, the blocking of the mural stair from the kitchen, provision of large scale first-floor windows, subdivision of the vaulted basement and remodelling of the fireplaces; a single-storeyed kitchen range was also added on the N.

A survey of the submerged portion of the island indicates that it is probably artificial, and has been enhanced and extended on more than one occasion. The edge of the island is enclosed by the remains of a low rubble wall and on the S there is a small well-constructed quay. According to Myln, at the time when Thomas Lauder was bishop of Dunkeld (1452-1476), robbers were established in the loch and castle of Clunie. They seem to have been forcibly ejected, and work on the tower-house probably began soon after, much of the material probably being derived from the remains of the royal castle on the Hill of Clunie (NO14SW 5). By 1506 the ground-floor vault was in place and a granary seems to have stood immediately to the E. The completion of the tower is attributed by Mylne to Bishop George Brown (1483-1514) and some insight into the building work between 1506 and 1515 is provided by Clunie's, Granitar's and Avenar's accounts in the Dunkeld Rental. These include reference in 1512 to the provision of an outshot (lie tufall) on the W side of the tower, which is probably to be identified with a roof-raggle in the N wall, and in 1512-13 the construction of a new pier (perhaps that at NO 1116 4396).

By 1507 provision had been made on the island for a chapel dedicated to St Catherine and, although this is said to have stood on the N side of the tower where human bones were found in the late 18th century, the first-floor chamber adjoining the hall is more likely to have fulfilled this role.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS) 17 October 1989.

Statistical Account (OSA) 1791-3; New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; OS Name Book; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889; Dunkeld Rentale; MS/646.

Measured Survey (10 October 1989)

RCAHMS surveyed Loch of Clunie tower house (NO14SW 4) on 10 October 1989 with plane-table and alidade at a scale of 1:100 producing ground and first floor plans, with details of mouldings. A phased plan of the first floor was redrawn in ink and published at a scale of 1:250 (RCAHMS 1994b, 140(C)).


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