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Clackmannan Tower

Castle (Medieval), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Clackmannan Tower

Classification Castle (Medieval), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) King's Seat Hill

Canmore ID 48302

Site Number NS99SW 1

NGR NS 90658 91958

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/48302

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images


First 100 images shown. See the Collections panel (below) for a link to all digital images.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Clackmannan
  • Parish Clackmannan
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Clackmannan
  • Former County Clackmannanshire

Archaeology Notes

NS99SW 1 90658 91958

See also NS99SW 13.

(NS 9066 9196) Clackmannan Tower (NR)

OS 6" map, (1948).

Clackmannan Tower is situated in the summit of a prominent ridge known as King's Seat Hill. The summit has been levelled, and probably at a later period, an area of about an acre has been enclosed as a garden by a wall which has now disappeared. On the southern side are traces of a garden terrace, while a short wide platform lying immediately south of the house, was probably a bowling green. The tower stands at the eastern end of this site.

The oldest portion is the lower half of the north end which is part of an oblong tower dating probably from the late 14th century. A wing was added on the south side in the 15th century making the building L-shaped. This wing is five storeys high - one storey higher than the north tower which is surmounted by a cap-house.

Alterations were made during the 16th and 17th century, and the entrance was transferred from the west wall of the wing to the east in the 17th century.

De Cardonnel's view taken in 1788, represents the tower and the forecourt as standing on a mound, with a ditch in front; and slight traces of this ditch are still to be seen. The New Statistical Account (NSA 1845), stated that the tower was surrounded by a moat with drawbridge, while adjoining the tower stood the old mansion, the residence of the Bruce family from between 1365 and 1772.

RCAHMS 1933.

The tower is as described above. Some months ago, as a result of mine-workings, the foundations were affected by subsidence, and a collapse of part of the east side resulted. This is now being repaired by the MoW.

The remains of the moat in front of the tower can still be plainly seen. It is about 15.0m long, 2.0m wide and 1.0m deep.

Visited by OS (WMJ) 5 July 1950.

NS 9065 9195 A watching brief was maintained during the excavation of an electricity cable trench at Clackmannan Tower in December 1999. The trench, excavated by a small mechanical excavator, ran between an existing manhole immediately within the remains of a barmkin enclosure on the E side of the tower house. The trench was dug towards the E doorway and measured c 16m E-W, being up to 600mm deep.

Two sherds of reduced post-medieval pottery (jug and handle sherds) were found along with the base of a glass bottle. Initial assessment suggests that these finds date to the 17th century. The present ground level within the E barmkin enclosure is at the same level as the threshold in the E door, while to the S a long range of buildings both defines the S limits of the barmkin, and revets the barmkin terrace. The ground level to the S of this S range is significantly lower than that within the present barmkin.

The findings from the excavation suggest that the present barmkin is the result of landscaping of the natural hill summit, with dumping of material directly over the clean clay horizon. There was no sign of a cobbled surface extant within the barmkin, although a shallow spread of loose stones and small rubble fragments may represent a damaged surface.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

G Ewart 2000.

Architecture Notes

NS99SW 1 90658 91958

Dates from the 15th century. Oblong in plan, with a short projecting wing, it is 79 feet high, its modern slated roof being gained by a spiral stair; and it retains the cellars, kitchen, barrel-vaulted hall, upper chamber, machicoulis, corbie-stepped gables and bartizan, with a 17th century belfry.

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23169- DC23171, 1953.

EXTERNAL REFERENCE:

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.

MSS 3241-3 a collection of Sketches made by James Nasmyth, some being by his father, his brother Patrick, and his sister Jane. In volume 3241 is a Sketch, numbered 31, of Clackmannan Tower.

Tradition asserts that Robert the Bruce, was the builder of this Tower in the small town of Clackmannan. In 1359, David II made a grant of it to is kinsman, Sir Robert Bruce. The oldest portion is a typical XIV century tower or Lairds's House, with a small chamber called a cap-house rising above the parapet.

Activities

Publication Account (1985)

The well-preserved tower-house at Clackmannan stands on the crest of a ridge a short distance to the west of the medieval burgh, and it overlooks the town in much the same way as do the castles in Edinburgh and Stirling. The site first comes on record in 1365 when David II granted certain lands in the Sheriffdom of Clackmannan to Robert de Bruce, and it remained in the hands of the same family until 1772, although by date the tower itself has been abandoned in favour of a more mdoern mansion house.

As might be expected, the building shows signs of several phases of construction, evolving from a simple rectangular tower to a more complex tower-house over a period of three hundred years, and there is some evidence to suggest that the stone structure may have superseded an earlier earthwork castle. The oldest section visible is to be found in the lower half of the north side; it forms part of a rectangular tower dating to the late 14th century, and iwas presumably build soon after the grant of the land to Robert de Bruce. The following century the tower was heightened and wing adde on the south, thus converting it to a conventional L-plan tower lay on the west, in the re-entrant, but, in the 16th or 17th century, it was replaced by the present entrance on the east. This was subsequently ornamented by the find Renaissance archway that can still be seen today, and at approximately the same time, a belfry was added to the caphouseat the top of the turnpike stair. Outside the tower-house a walled forecourt was built in the 17th century, and a view in 1758 shows a ditch surrounding the tower which still survived in part as late as 1795.

At present it is not possible to enter the tower as recent subsidence has led to a partial collapse of the fabric, but this is in the process of being stabilised and made good.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

Watching Brief (7 December 1999)

A watching brief was maintained during the excavation of an electricity cable trench at Clackmannan Tower in December 1999. The trench, excavated by a small mechanical excavator, ran between an existing manhole immediately within the remains of a barmkin enclosure on the E side of the tower house. The trench was dug towards the E doorway and measured c 16m E-W, being up to 600mm deep.

Two sherds of reduced post-medieval pottery (jug and handle sherds) were found along with the base of a glass bottle. Initial assessment suggests that these finds date to the 17th century. The present ground level within the E barmkin enclosure is at the same level as the threshold in the E door, while to the S a long range of buildings both defines the S limits of the barmkin, and revets the barmkin terrace. The ground level to the S of this S range is significantly lower than that within the present barmkin.

The findings from the excavation suggest that the present barmkin is the result of landscaping of the natural hill summit, with dumping of material directly over the clean clay horizon. There was no sign of a cobbled surface extant within the barmkin, although a shallow spread of loose stones and small rubble fragments may represent a damaged surface.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

G Ewart

Kirkdale Archaeology

Watching Brief (19 March 2013 - 21 March 2013)

NS 9080 9191 (centred on) A watching brief was undertaken, 19–21 March 2013, during alterations to three gates to allow disabled access to the tower. Evidence of recent landscaping and utilities were seen but nothing of archaeological significance was recorded.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox, Kirkdale Archaeology, 2013

(Source: DES)

OASIS ID: kirkdale1-311422

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