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Castle Lachlan

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Castle Lachlan

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Old Castle Lachlan; Strathlachlan Policies

Canmore ID 40549

Site Number NS09NW 1

NGR NS 00527 95280

NGR Description Centred on NS 00527 95280

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Strathlachlan
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NS09NW 1 00527 95280

Not to be confused with the country house of the same name (at NS 01298 95563), for which see NS09NW 26.

(NS 0052 9526) Castle (NR) (In Ruins)

OS 6" map (1900)

Castle Lachlan, which is probably of 15th century date is of a peculiar form. Externally, its appearance is of a great keep, 70' N-S by 54' transversely, standing 43' high; but on going inside, it is found to consist of two tenements, on the E and W sides of a narrow open court, 12'6" wide by 34'3" long. These two blocks are connected at the N end by a small building containing a room 8' by 7' and a small wheel-staircase. The castle was occupied by the Maclachlans till 1746, when attacked by a government warship; though little damage was done, its occupants fled, and it was never again occupied.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889

Generally as described. The N and S corners have fallen.

Visited by OS (DWR) 29 November 1972

Architecture Notes

This site has only been partially upgraded for SCRAN. For full details, please consult the Architecture Catalogues for Argyll and Bute District.

March 1998


Field Visit (May 1989)

The ruin of this late medieval castle surmounts a rocky knoll only a few metres above high-water level at the w end of a low19 promontory which projects from the E shore of Loch Fyne on the N side of the tidal Lachlan Bay. In 1314 Gilaspec MacLouchlan granted a rent from his lands of Kilbride (see No. 56) beside 'Castlelachlan' by a charter dated at the castle, which probably stood on the existing site (en.1*). It remained the residence of the chiefs of the MacLachlan family until about2M .1l 1790, when the present Castle Lachlan was built in the valley of the Strathlachlan River 0.8km to the ENE (NS 013955).

The neck of the promontory, some 150m in width, is spanned by shallow ditches draining a marshy central area35m NE of the castle, and there are slight remains of an angled drystone wall above the shore 25m to the NW. The age of these remains is uncertain, however, and other enclosures to the NW and NE of the castle, including a narrow tree-lined avenue, are probably of 18th- or 19th-century origin (en.2*). A scarped platform bounded on the SE by a low turf-covered wall extends for some 8m from the landward or NE wall of the castle and continues beyond its N angle to a maximum length of 20m, but there was no apparent means of access from the castle, and their relationship is uncertain. The present approach is by an enclosed ramp of late 16th- or 17thcenturydate built against the SE wall, above a small boat inlet on the rocky foreshore of Lachlan Bay. Although the site is exposed to the SW wind, boats could also be drawn up on small shingly beaches at both sides of the promontory, and there are traces of a possible building or boat-noost close to the shore 60m NE of the castle.


The castle comprises a quadrangular enclosure entered by a central archway in the SE wall and divided into two ranges by a narrow transverse corridor or courtyard. The plan of the enclosure with its obtuse N and Wangles closely resembles that of Castle Sween (No. 119), although on a smaller scale, and it may have been influenced by an earlier building on the site, but no remains of the castle recorded in 1314 can be identified. The curtain-wall is probably of early 15th-centurydate and a series of blocked openings indicates that the division into NE and SW ranges with differing floor-levels was an original one, although the existing internal structures may be dated to about 1500 by their elaborate fireplaces, and the SW range, containing the principal hall, was probably widened at that period. The original plan, with its slightly larger courtyard, may be seen as a development of the late medieval layout of castles such as Castle Sween and Innis Chonnell (en.3) with their large hall-ranges and private blocks, adapted to a confined site to produce a remarkable anticipation of the Renaissance plan of Drochil Castle (Peebles-shire) (en.4). The two ranges are connected at the NW end of the courtyard by a narrow building incorporating a newel stair and a series of small rooms above a ground-floor well. This stair was linked, by corbelled timber galleries above the courtyard, to the first-floor doorway of the SW hall-range and to the principal floor of the NE range, whose floor-level as l.5m higher because of the differing heights of their respective vaulted ground floors. Provision for firearm defence was made in this early-16th-century phase, and musket-loops were added at wallhead-level and in the SE forework, probably at about the end of that century. Some alterations were made to the NW stair-tower at about that period, and in the NE range during the 17th or early 18thcentury. The castle was garrisoned by Campbell militiamen during the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, in which the MacLachlans supported the Jacobite cause, but an engraving of about 1790 (en.5) shows that only the NE range was still roofed at the time when the new house was being built. The N and S angles collapsed some time after 1830, and the walls were extensively repointed, many openings being blocked, shortly before MacGibbon and Ross surveyed the building about1890 (en.6).

RCAHMS 1992, visited May 1989

[A full architectural description and historical note are provided in RCAHMS 1992, 237-245]

Watching Brief (14 March 2013)

NS 00527 95280 A watching brief was carried out, 14 March 2013, during the construction of external and internal scaffolding at Old Lachlan Castle. No finds or features of archaeological significance were observed.

Archive: Argyll Archaeology

Funder: Historic Scotland

Clare Ellis, Argyll Archaeology, 2013

(Source: DES)

Watching Brief (August 2015)

NS 00530 95280 A narrow trench 0.4 x 3.5m was hand excavated in August 2015 through the ramp leading up to the entrance of Old Castle Lachlan in order that the collapsing retaining wall could be manually pushed upright and consolidated. The ramp was shown to consist of loose stone rubble. The retaining wall had been rebuilt and added to on a number of occasions and the latest phase of rebuilding incorporated some of the ramp rubble into the rough foundation. Various 19th-century artefacts including a roof slate, broken bottle glass and ceramics were recovered from the topsoil.

Archive: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) intended

Funder: LTM Group

Clare Ellis – Argyll Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

Excavation (19 March 2018 - 21 March 2018)

NO 00512 95303 A programme of building recording and

excavation of a series of test pits was undertaken, 19–21

March 2018, as part of a wider restoration project. The

building recording involved 3D scanning to produce a model

(by McCreadie 3D), followed by the production of phased

archaeological drawings, intended to aid the development of

the restoration scheme.

Following scheduled monument consent, four test pits

were hand excavated in the ground floor of the castle. The

concrete surface at the first floor level of the castle is failing,

causing water to leak through to the vaults beneath.

Test Pits 1 and 2 were excavated in the W Hall. Test Pit 1

revealed a considerable depth of rubble and the remains of

a lime mortared wall, running E/W parallel to the front wall

of the castle. Test Pit 2 abutted the fireplace and revealed the

base of the moulded fireplace and hearth slab, indicating

the original floor level. Test Pits 3 and 4 were excavated

in the E Hall. Test Pit 3 uncovered what may have been a

rough levelling deposit of stones with a clay patch, possibly

sealing the top of the vaults. Within Test Pit 4 a deposit was

uncovered which has been interpreted as the top of the vault


The evaluation established that archaeological deposits

relating to the earlier phases of the castle survive beneath

the concrete floor. The depth of these deposits was relatively

consistent in the test pits, at 200–300mm below the surface

of the concrete. In order to protect the vaults below from

further water damage and to help to stabilize the castle, it

will be necessary to remove the current concrete surface and

relay a suitable surface. This will afford an opportunity to

record and better understand the earlier phases of the castle,

and this information could be used to inform any future

consolidation and renovations, including plans to improve

visitor access.

Archive: NRHE (intended)

Funder: Lachlan Trust

Jenni Morrison – Addyman Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 19)

OASIS ID: addymana1-312767


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