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Carstairs Castle

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name Carstairs Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Casteltarres; Casteltarras; Casteltarris

Canmore ID 47633

Site Number NS94NW 6

NGR NS 9395 4619

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council South Lanarkshire
  • Parish Carstairs
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Clydesdale
  • Former County Lanarkshire

Archaeology Notes

NS94NW 6 9395 4619.

(NS 9395 4618) Carstairs Castle (NR)

(Site of) on Site of Roman Station (R)

(The name is applied to pecks apparently depicting the NE corner of a rectangular enclosure).

OS 25" map (1859)

(Name: NS 9396 4623) Site of Carstairs Castle (NR) on Site of Roman Station (R) (No detail or symbol).

OS 6" map (1913)

(NS 9396 4623) Carstairs Castle (NR) (Site of)

(Symbol shown, obviously sited to centre of name as published on 6" 1913).

OS 6" map (1957)

Carstairs (known variously as Casteltarres, Casteltarras, and Casteltarris in the 12th and 13th centuries (Orig Paroch Scot 1851)) is said to have derived its name from a castle which stood at the E end of the village (Statistical Account [OSA] 1796).

A castle at Carstairs was given to the Bishops of Glasgow in 1126 (New Statistical Account [NSA] 1845, written by G Munro) and charters were dated thence by bishops in 1245 and 1294. After 1286 a new castle was commenced, a licence to complete (turreted and crenellated) being granted in 1292. No trace of either castle remains and nothing further is definitely known of their history.

The OS site (1859) was based on the discovery of old walls and 'Gothic' stonework, and, in 1820, Munro described the discovery of a cannon bullet embedded in the remains of old buildings 10ft below the surface, beneath the wall forming the SW corner of the glebe, associated with a paved floor 'of considerable dimensions', and a gable wall 'of massy stones', which may refer to the same site.

Also possibly associated is Pocock's description (R Pococke 1887) in 1760: "To the east of the village near the church are remains of the ancient town supposable Colania. It is near a rivulet which is to the east of it, and was about a hundred yards broad from east to west and two hundred long, the Parsonage house (at NS 9393 4634) being near the north wall. There is a large lead extending from the north wall to the east so as to keep up the water from the rivulet for the use of the town." Air photographs (RAF/F21/540/1292: 0131-2, flown 1954) suggest that this water lay at NS 9404 4623. Pococke goes on to describe what were probably medieval implements and architectural fragments which had been found on the site.

The evidence for there having been a Roman station at Carstairs appears to consist of Roy's mention of "some remains of a bath and other antiquities" being found near the church (W Roy 1793) and Pococke's description of the "remains of the ancient town supposable Colania" which were probably medieval; the OS authority for publication is Munro's statement that the ancient Castle of Carstairs was originally a Roman station or fortification. Robertson (A S Robertson 1952) regards the existence of a Roman fort here as extremely doubtful.

Name Book 1859

There is a slightly raised, but unsurveyable, roughly rectangular area centred at approximately NS 9395 4619. Both it and the surface of the field immediately surrounding have been considerably disturbed and although no structural evidence can be seen, it would have been a suitable site for a tower or castle. No further information could be found by local enquiries.

Visited by OS (RD) 3 January 1968

The denuded remains of the medieval castle at Carstairs were mistakenly identified as Roman by both Roy and Pococke.

RCAHMS 1978.


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