Duchal Castle

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Alternative Names Green Water; Blacketty Water
Site Type MOTTE
Canmore ID 42298
Site Number NS36NW 8
NGR NS 3345 6852
Former District INVERCLYDE
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Notes and Activities

Archaeological Notes

NS36NW 8 3345 6852

(NS 3345 6852) Duchal Castle (NR) (rems of)
OS 1:10000 map (1979).

Not to be confused with Milton Bridge, motte (at NS 35806 68347), for which see NS36NE 13, or with Duchal House (NS 35344 68012), for which see NS36NE 30.00.

A great part of the ruins of Duchal Castle still remain, as do the old drawbridge and the draw-well.
G Crawfurd and W Semple 1782.

Duchal Castle occupies a peninsula of rock almost entirely surrounded by a deep ravine through which runs the Green Water and a tributary, the Blacketty Water. The sides of the site are either perpendicular for a height of 20ft or very precipitous. The whole portion, measuring about 70 yds E-W by 30 yds transversely, has been enclosed by a strong enceinte wall, parts of which still remain. Outside the wall to the W, the neck of the peninsula has been cut across by a deep ditch. The entrance has probably been at the NW angle (A on plan). The general surface of the enclosure is fairly level, but at the SE angle a pinnacle rises 20 ft above the courtyard. On this stood the keep; its foundation, surrounded by a higher wall, can still be traced.
The enceinte wall, although greatly demolished, has been of a much stronger character than an ordinary courtyard wall, and may represent the remains of a 13th century castle. The keep, however, is probably not so old, but it is too dilapidated to date accurately. It is most proably of 14th century date.
The estate belonged to the Lyle family in the 13th century. The castle was garrisoned by the Earl of Lennox in 1488, and was beseiged by the King in 1489. The property passed to the Porterfields in 1544.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889; A Millar 1889.

There are now only fragmentary remains of Duchal Castle, on a high rocky crag, round which ran a strong wall some 2m thick. The site is naturally defended on three sides by steep slopes, while a deep ditch has been cut on the W, isolating the castle. In the centre fragment of wall to the N, there is a form of chute sloping down to the Green Water; it may possibly have been a garderobe, or a well.
Visited by OS (JD), 27 July 1955.

Recently a plan was drawn of the ruinous remains which stand on a promontory between two rivers. Only fragmentary sections of the enclosing walls survive, and the majority of these are undermined. However, a few notable architectural features were recorded. The upper lintels and sides of two horizontal, wide-mouther gunloops (A and C) and a possible third smaller example (B) were located within the curtain walls. A single piece of worked stone was all that remained of a possible garderobe chute (D).
Sponsor: Renfrewshire Local History Forum.
D Alexander 1993.

Books and References

Alexander, D (1993b) 'Duchal Castle: an initial survey', Renfrewshire Local Hist Forum J, vol.5
Page(s): 12-21

Alexander, D (1993a) 'Duchal Castle (Kilmacolm parish): castle and gunloops', Discovery Excav Scot
Page(s): 84 Fig.37

Crawfurd and Semple, G and W (1782) History of the shire of Renfrew,
Page(s): 71-3

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