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Old Poltalloch, Farm Steading

Cruck Framed Building (Pre-improvement), Farmstead (18th Century)

Site Name Old Poltalloch, Farm Steading

Classification Cruck Framed Building (Pre-improvement), Farmstead (18th Century)

Canmore ID 361925

Site Number NM80SW 38.01

NGR NM 8076 0080

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 Kilmartin
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll


Field Visit (October 1984)

The ruin of this late 18th-century house stands within a forest plantation at an elevation of 30m OD, above the E shore of Loch Craignish. It lies N of its associated walled garden and farmstead, close to an old terraced track. The main block of the house has been laid out on a symmetrical tripartite plan facing SW and incorporating an advanced central block with narrower flanking wings. It measures 19m by 13.5m over walls 0.75m in average thickness. Much of the E wing rises to three main storeys above a partly sunk basement; parts of the central block survive to first-floor level, but the W wing is largely reduced to wall-foundations and masonry debris. The house was built of rubble masonry brought to courses in short lengths, and a fine-grained buff sandstone was used for plain offset margins, quoins and string-courses (en.1*).

The main entrance-doorway has presumably been at the centre of the SW front. There are the remains of a fireplace on the W wall of the entrance-lobby and the raggle of a scale-and-platt stair which ascended in the NW corner of the central block. At the foot of the former stair a wide segmental arch opens into the W wing whose ground floor has had a lintelled fireplace in the NE angle, a cupboard at the end of the E wall, and a window in the S front wall. The walls of the E wing contain the joist-sockets of the timber floors, and set within the thickness of the E wall at the NE angle is a chute, possibly a latrine-vent. The basement of the E wing includes the remains of a large kitchen-fireplace.

There are vestiges of a stone-walled forecourt or garden to the S of the house, and a dyke runs NW to link with a three-unit cottage or pavilion aligned NE-SW. There is a corresponding NE pavilion which occupies a bankside position near the track and is now in a dangerous state of collapse. The rubble walling and dressed surrounds of both pavilions conform to those of the main block. The NW range has been single-storeyed with a loft over the central unit. There are two blind windows in the main (E) frontage, and three doorways give access to the individual units, some of which have been equipped with fireplaces. The N unit is self-contained, whilst the central and S units inter-communicate at ground- and first-floor levels (en.2*).

In low-lying ground between these two ranges and in line with the rear of the house is a small two-storeyed oblong building with a doorway in the E wall leading into a former latrine. It has a window on each floor and flight-apertures for birds at the upper level.

On the hillside below the access track and 50m S of the house there is a large walled garden covering an area of 0.41ha. There are lintelled gateways in the centre of the N and S walls and traces of a garden-building against the N end of the E wall.

FARM STEADING. This ruinous steading is set on a platform facing w over Loch Craignish and some 200m SSE of the house. The ranges of buildings, mainly of 1 ½ storeys, are grouped around four sides of a courtyard slightly more than 30m square. The rubble walling-materials are similar to those used in the house, but the freestone dressings are of a different, red-coloured sandstone. The main W frontage has a central, slightly projecting and pedimented gateway, with a shouldered flat arch composed of slabbed voussoirs. An inscribed sandstone block at the apex of the pediment records that the building was erected by George Malcolm in 1799. Flanking the entrance are two tiers of ventilation-slits and dummy three-light Venetian windows. Access to the inner courtyard was also obtained through the N and E quarters, the latter subsequently blocked up and provided with stone nesting-boxes at the upper levels of the stone blocking. There are two segmental-arched cart-bays at the N end of the E range, and stone forestairs at each end of the same range gave access to the upper floor.

To the NW of the steading are the ruins of a three-bay single-storeyed cottage which retains evidence of cruck-slots in the S side-wall (en.3*).


Poltalloch was the principal residence of the MacCallum or Malcolm family from the 16th century until the purchase of Duntrune Castle (No. 128) in 1796. However, the buildings described above were erected by George Malcolm, a younger brother of Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch, who held a lease of Poltalloch and the neighbouring township of Strone (en.4*). In his observations on the estate, prepared in 1798, he declared his intention to perpetuate the memory of his ancestors by improving Poltalloch with new roads, enclosures and 'a regular set of Farm buildings on a small scale with a Cart & Coachhouse, a Small neat Mansion House and two outoffice houses at the extremity of the back square', as well as a garden wall of proper height (en.5). Work was carried out on the garden wall, as well as the farm steading, in 1799, and in 1801 it was reported that existing buildings 'will be in a short time turned down by Mr George's new buildings’ (en.6*). However, George Malcolm's main energies thereafter were devoted to the family property in Jamaica, and it was believed in 1872 that the mansion, then ruinous, had never been completed (en.7). At that period the steading and both outhouses were intact, but by 1900 only the W outhouse and the NW range of the steading retained their roofs (en.8).

RCAHMS 1992, visited October 1984


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