In this blog I will be discussing a fascinating and remote tower house called Saddell Castle. The weather conditions were rather dreich and dismal so the drone footage is not as great as the lighting and wind made the conditions sub optimal. None the less, this was a fantastic location to visit.
Saddell Castle is located on the east coast of Kintyre. In the same stretch as Tarbert Castle and Skipness Castle, on route to Campbeltown, you will find Saddell Castle, looking out across to the Isle of Arran. The name ‘Saddell’ is derived from the Norse term ‘sandy valley’ and dates from the time where Vikings had settled in the area prior to the 12th century.
Saddell Abbey sits just off the main road and is quite easily accessible with car parking close by. Next to the ruins of the 12th century abbey there is a newly built enclosure which houses twelve medieval carved stone monuments possibly dating to sometime in the 15th century. Some of the stones depict men in distinctive West Highland armour or churchmen.
After a short walk down a narrow country road, you will find the 16th-century castle which sits right on the beach. There is something really special about the seaside and castle reveal after walking down the path as well as the sheer remoteness of the location. In fact the reason this location was chosen by the Cistercian order for the construction of Saddell Abbey was to ensure it was removed from the influence of people in the big cities and towns.
The Landmark Trust run Saddell Castle as holiday accommodation. It’s fantastic to see historic structures being nurtured and kept in circulation for the enjoyment of people who would like to visit and stay.
Saddell Castle is a tower house with an aesthetic which is typical of the period. It has a battlemented wall-walk round the roof similar to Skipness Castle which I had the pleasure of walking round.
The Landmark Trusts detail the restoration process on their website (www.landmarktrust.org.uk). It was a great achievement as the building was in disrepair with large trees were growing from the parapets and all the windows had gone. The restoration works were in keeping with the principals of historic conservation using appropriate materials and retaining existing materials where possible.
The restoration works included the following:
- Repair of structural crack in the south east corner
- Application of lime harling
- The roof was re-slated
- Restoration of the entrance archway
- Installation of two new bathrooms and a new kitchen
- New windows in keeping with a traditional style
- Repairs to floors walls and doors as well as the return of historic items that were being kept in Campbeltown Museum
For more info on the history of this castle as well as more detail on the restoration work visit The Landmark Trusts website.