Whitney Bank Presentation Room, Thomas Hall, Loyola University
6363 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118
A Lecture by
Dr. Connie Rodriguez
Loyola University, New Orleans
President of the New Orleans Society of the AIA
Monday, November 13, 2017
Whitney Bank Presentation Room
free admission and free parking on campus (West Road Garage and the Horseshoe)
Co-sponsored by the Department of Classical Studies and the New Orleans Society of the Archaeological Institute of America
Castle Craig is a ruined 16th century Scottish tower house situated on the northern shore of the Black Isle. The site is overgrown, forming part of a densely vegetated cliff-top scarp among barley fields overlooking the Cromarty Firth. Its strategic location suggests that there may be archaeological evidence relating to earlier periods of occupation on the site. Past surveys of a 4 square kilometer area around the castle indicate activity and occupation as early as 400 C.E.
Castle Craig's tower house consists of two main blocks, conforming to a classic L-shaped plan. The hall block has suffered the greatest collapse with the ground floor buried beneath wall tumble. The tower block survives to its full height (four floors) with areas of surviving interior vaulting, window openings with chamfered jambs and lintels, gun ports and small loop openings also with chamfered jambs and lintels. The tower incorporates the remains of bartizan turrets and an unusual vaulted roof. Other structures within the enclosure of the curtain wall are mostly unknown, lying under rubble deposits and vegetation, and can only be conjectured based on comparison with other tower houses of its type from the period. It is therefore likely that the rubble deposits preserve the foundations and walls of these structures within the curtain walls.
There is no evidence that Castle Craig has been subjected to any disturbance or clearance, other than occasional stone robbing. Because the castle has been subjected to little intervention since it was abandoned as a residence, it retains considerable archaeological potential. While a structural engineer has provided emergency propping to stabilize the vaulted fireplace and upper floors, concern remains for the preservation of the tower, remaining structures and curtain walls. A detailed scheme for its repair and a long-term vision that includes excavation will place Castle Craig into a sustainable condition to prevent further loss of this Black Isle landmark.