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Old Tulliallan Castle

Castle (Medieval), Garden (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Hall House (Medieval)

Site Name Old Tulliallan Castle

Classification Castle (Medieval), Garden (Period Unassigned)(Possible), Hall House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Tulliallan, Hall-house; Tully Allan Castle

Canmore ID 48109

Site Number NS98NW 5

NGR NS 92696 88776

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Tulliallan
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District Dunfermline
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NS98NW 5 92696 88776

(NS 9268 8877) Tulliallan Castle (NR) (remains of)

OS 6" map, (1966)

Tulliallan Castle, though ruinous, is one of the best surviving examples of a Scottish hall-house, probably built in the early 14th century within a broad ditch comparable to that at the Peel of Gargunnock or Peel of Gartfarren (homestead moats - see and ). The upper storeys of the castle have been remodelled in the 15th century, and later additions have been made.

J G Dunbar 1966; RCAHMS 1933; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92.

The foundations of Tulliallan Castle are built on a large natural rock outcrop. The causeway entrance over the ditch on the S is stone-packed, and the remains of a strong curtain wall exist in the SW corner. The base of the ditch varies from 4.0m to 5.0m in breadth and the outer upcast mound rises in places to a height of 1.5m above the bottom of the ditch. The whole site is so densely overgrown that approach is difficult except from the S. The remains are in poor condition.

Visited by OS (M H) 13 July 1953.

Possible 17th century garden.

N Hynd 1984.


Field Visit (22 April 1925)

Tulliallan Castle.

This castle is situated on the left bank of the River Forth, half a mile north-east of the river and three quarters of a mile north-west of Kincardine. Although a ruin, it is of special interest, as it has features of arrangement and detail unique in Scottish architecture. In places the site is marshy and unsuitable for heavy building, but in the north-east corner there is an outcrop of rock, nowhere rising higher than 10 feet, and on this the castle is erected. It stands within an enclosure, roughly D-shaped and girt with a broad ditch having a rampart outside of it, the chord of the arc being on the north.

OUTWORKS. Only here and there is the rampart traceable, and the western end of the straight part of the ditch is now difficult to distinguish. The enclosure is entered from thes outh. The present entrance is possibly modern and has apparently replaced an original entrance, the position of which is probably marked by a small re-entrant in the arc, 50 yards farther west. Between this latter point and the northwest angle the ditch is only 13 feet in breadth. Elsewhere it has an average breadth of 30 feet. The ground in the north-east corner is uneven and may conceal the foundations of an outbuilding. Close at hand, but within the ditch, is a fragment of masonry, which may perhaps represent the remains of a conduit or sluice.

THE BUILDING. The castle is not wholly of one time, and the date and extent of the earliest work in it are in some doubt. It consists of an oblong main block, facing south and running roughly east and west, three-storeyed at one end and four-storeyed at the other, while two wings which have obviously been added to it project from its northern wall in alignment with the gables. At its south-western angle is a tower which projects only slightly on the south, but develops into a semi-octagon on the west. This contains the principal staircase. A semi-hexagon in which there is a service stair, is placed midway along the western wall, masking what may once have been the northwest corner. The ground floor of the main block, with the lower part of the south-west tower and of the two staircases, is not unlike 14th-century architecture. The general plan, however, is characteristic of castles erected a century later, while the upper storeys of the parts just mentioned, in so far as they are original, can be definitely ascribed to the 15th century. The wings are apparently additions, that on the west being a modification introduced when the ground floor of the main block was actually under construction, while that on the east cannot be much later.

There are two entrances on the south, the principal one in the south-west tower, and the other at the east end of the main block. The former was protected by a portcullis and a barred door, while a mound in front of it may be the foundations of a detached structure on which the outer end of a drawbridge rested when lowered. No ditch can be traced. The gateway, however, is rebated to receive the drawbridge when raised and above is a rainure for the cable or chain. The entrance at the east end, which opens directly into what must have been the old hall, had also a drawbridge, as well as two doors with bars, while in addition there seems to have been a movable shutter sliding in an opening formed in the soffit between the doors. A third entrance at the north-west corner gives admission from the west wing, but was apparently designed to be external as it had two barred doors. This points clearly to a change of plan. From the mound in front of the main entrance a retaining wall runs along the western side of the castle, to support a terrace overlooking what was probably the garden.

The masonry is of ashlar, the courses averagingII inches, and is mainly cubical but with acertain number of stretchers up to zt and 3 feetin length. The walls, which are 6 feet thick, arebuilt with an outer and an inner casing, theheaders on each having a depth of 9 or 10inches. At the base they have . a batter of ztdegrees, which extends to a height of 9t feeton the front, but is lower elsewhere.

[see RCAHMS 1933, 275-280, for a full architectural description]

HISTORICAL NOTE. In 1304 Edward I ,was ordering his sheriff of Clackmannan to strengthen the walls of "Tolyalwyn” (1). The lands of Tulliallan with the "fortalice" or " forslete of that ilk" were granted in 1410 by Archibald, Earl of Douglas to Sir John Edminstone (2). The Edminstone line ended in two daughters, and, in the spring of 1485-6, Elizabeth Edminstone, wife of Patrick Blackadder, exchanged with her sister certain lands in Banff for the latter's share of the lands of Tulliallan (3). Thereafter the whole lands were conferred upon John Blackadder, the son (4), and continued with this family till the beginning of the 17th century; after 1605 they are found in the hands of Sir George Bruce of Carnock.

In 1619 five men were under trial for the incarceration of another in the "pitt of Tullieallane, quhair, throw want of intertenement, he famischet and deit of hunger" (5).

RCAHMS 1933, visited 22 April 1925.

(1) Bain's Calendar of Docts., ii, No. 1514. (2) The Douglas Book, Sir William Fraser, II, pp. 402, 406. (3) Reg. Mag. Sig., s.a., No. 1644. (4) Ibid., No. 1707. (5) Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, III, p. 479. Cf. also Cast. and Dom. Arch., I, p. 550.

Photographic Survey (July 1960)

Photographic survey of Old Tulliallan Castle, Fife, by the Ministry of Work/Scottish National Buildings Record in July 1960.

Publication Account (1987)

Tulliallan Castle is one of the best preserved examples of a comparatively rare building type, the Scottish hall-house or, more accurately, upper-hall-house. It is also unusual in having the principal doorway and a number of dwelling rooms in the vaulted undercroft. The doorway is defended by a drawbridge, portcullis and sliding draw-bars. It gives access to the stair to the hall and to a storage chamber or ante-room in the western part of the undercroft. At the east end, the undercroft contains a handsome apartment with a fireplace and stepped window seats. A row of piers down the centre of the undercroft supports quadripartite ribbed vaulting. The upper floor or hall has been remodelled and little comment can be made on the former arrangements; if it was occupied as a single room, it would have measured fully 18 m in length. It has been suggested that the wings to the north are later additions.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).


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