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TITLE
Caisteal Camus
EXTERNAL ID
HCD_PRINT_005
PLACENAME
Knock
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Sleat
DATE OF IMAGE
1995
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
David L. Roberts
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
13201
KEYWORDS
castles
ruins
reconstruction
clans
Caisteal Camus
Caisteal Camus

This watercolour by David L. Roberts shows Caisteal Camus as it may have looked in the 1630s. Based on antiquarian illustrations as well as archaeological records of the site, some of the reconstruction is unavoidably conjectural.

Caisteal Camus, also known as Knock or Cnoc Castle, lies on the east coast of the Sleat peninsula on Skye, looking across the Sound of Sleat to the mainland. In common with the majority of Skye's duns and castles, Caisteal Camus is situated on a promontory; indeed it is probably built on top of an Iron Age fort, Dun Thoravaig. A ditch to the north, now mostly filled in with debris and vegetation, hints at the fortifications which must have occupied the site. A steep cliff to the south supported and protected the structures above.

Horatio McCulloch's 1854 study of the ruins from the east adds to the limited amount of architectural clues remaining on the ground, the result of stone-robbing and the effects of exposure to the elements. It can be ascertained that a tower with 1.5m thick walls and with at least 3 floors stood at the eastern end of the site. A later dwelling house dating from the late 16th or early 17th century sat at right angles to the tower, although the tower may have already been ruinous by then. Another range of buildings on the west side, of an earlier period, may have enclosed a courtyard.

Like Dun Sgathaich, also in Sleat, Caisteal Camus was caught up in the clan rivalry between the MacLeods and MacDonalds. The MacLeods were in possession until the early 15th century, when the MacDonalds of Sleat got the upper hand in the area. After being over-run by Royal troops in 1431, nothing is recorded of the ownership of the castle for nearly a century. It resurfaces still under MacDonald control, until forfeit to the Crown in the early 1580s. It was returned in 1596 on condition that it could be used as a Royal residence if required, and the dwelling house may date from this time. It never was used for Royal visitors and the last documentary evidence of the castle's occupation dates from 1632. By 1689 the site was abandoned and rapidly falling into disrepair.

The artist, David L. Roberts (1931 - 1997), set up the Orbost Gallery on the Isle of Skye after moving there in 1975. With a background in architectural studies, he was able to combine his artistic talents and knowledge of structures to provide reconstruction paintings of historical buildings for Dualchas, the local Museums Service. Based on surviving ruins, antiquarian illustrations, and a certain amount of educated supposition, the paintings were produced to illustrate The Mediaeval Castles of Skye and Lochalsh, first published in 1990. This book, republished in 2007, gives detailed descriptions of the architecture of each castle.


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Caisteal Camus

INVERNESS: Sleat

1990s

castles; ruins; reconstruction; clans; Caisteal Camus

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

David L. Roberts' Prints and Drawings

This watercolour by David L. Roberts shows Caisteal Camus as it may have looked in the 1630s. Based on antiquarian illustrations as well as archaeological records of the site, some of the reconstruction is unavoidably conjectural.<br /> <br /> Caisteal Camus, also known as Knock or Cnoc Castle, lies on the east coast of the Sleat peninsula on Skye, looking across the Sound of Sleat to the mainland. In common with the majority of Skye's duns and castles, Caisteal Camus is situated on a promontory; indeed it is probably built on top of an Iron Age fort, Dun Thoravaig. A ditch to the north, now mostly filled in with debris and vegetation, hints at the fortifications which must have occupied the site. A steep cliff to the south supported and protected the structures above.<br /> <br /> Horatio McCulloch's 1854 study of the ruins from the east adds to the limited amount of architectural clues remaining on the ground, the result of stone-robbing and the effects of exposure to the elements. It can be ascertained that a tower with 1.5m thick walls and with at least 3 floors stood at the eastern end of the site. A later dwelling house dating from the late 16th or early 17th century sat at right angles to the tower, although the tower may have already been ruinous by then. Another range of buildings on the west side, of an earlier period, may have enclosed a courtyard.<br /> <br /> Like Dun Sgathaich, also in Sleat, Caisteal Camus was caught up in the clan rivalry between the MacLeods and MacDonalds. The MacLeods were in possession until the early 15th century, when the MacDonalds of Sleat got the upper hand in the area. After being over-run by Royal troops in 1431, nothing is recorded of the ownership of the castle for nearly a century. It resurfaces still under MacDonald control, until forfeit to the Crown in the early 1580s. It was returned in 1596 on condition that it could be used as a Royal residence if required, and the dwelling house may date from this time. It never was used for Royal visitors and the last documentary evidence of the castle's occupation dates from 1632. By 1689 the site was abandoned and rapidly falling into disrepair.<br /> <br /> The artist, David L. Roberts (1931 - 1997), set up the Orbost Gallery on the Isle of Skye after moving there in 1975. With a background in architectural studies, he was able to combine his artistic talents and knowledge of structures to provide reconstruction paintings of historical buildings for Dualchas, the local Museums Service. Based on surviving ruins, antiquarian illustrations, and a certain amount of educated supposition, the paintings were produced to illustrate The Mediaeval Castles of Skye and Lochalsh, first published in 1990. This book, republished in 2007, gives detailed descriptions of the architecture of each castle. <br /> <br /> <br /> This image can be purchased.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href= "mailto: skyeandlochalsh.archives@highlifehighland.com" >Skye and Lochalsh Archives</a>