This volume explores the results of archaeological research undertaken at the world-renowned Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, focusing on the castle’s medieval remnants.
Now hard to believe, Eilean Donan Castle was once one of the largest castles in the west Highlands, known to have featured seven towers, the remains of which lie buried on the island. This book provides a refreshed view of the lost medieval guise of the castle, of its 13th-century origins and form, and of who was responsible for building it, allowing the castle to be positioned accurately in the complex dynamics of powerholding and display of the earls of Ross and associated militarized kindreds of the west Highlands during six centuries of change up to the castle’s destruction in 1719.
A new history and the details of the below-ground archaeology allow us to see the lost medieval castle in our mind’s eye 500 years after it vanished. Focusing on the huge amount of archaeological material unearthed during the campaign shows the castle hosted master craftspeople including goldsmiths, shipwrights and hereditary swordsmiths. Exquisite personal items, decorative mail armor and weapons, musical instruments, gaming pieces, imported pottery and animal bones bring the castle and its inhabitants back to life.
List of illustrations List of tables Acknowledgements Foreword
1. Introduction Site and setting
2. Archaeological and historical background Prehistoric activity Saint Donan The Earls of Ross, Clann Choinnich and Clann Mhic Rath from the 13th century to 1719, Professor Richard Oram
3. Overview of research programme
4. Research results Before the castle The medieval castle The late medieval castle The 16th-century castle The 20th-century castle - reconstruction of the inner ward
5. Digest of evidence – the assemblages 1. The lithics 2. The pottery 3. The animal remains 4. The finds 5. The plant remains 6. The coins 7. The gravoir or hair parter and its cultural context 8. The castle at play 9. The metal-working assemblages
6. Discussion Pre-castle activity Dating the sequence The castle household through time
Cecily Shakespeare is a senior archaeological researcher at FAS Heritage who has excavated, studied and published numerous medieval stratified sequences in Britain, famously at Portmahomack, Easter Ross where she was leading co-director.
Jonathan Clark is a buildings archaeologist and architectural historian who has spent much of his career researching, recording and analysing medieval castles, houses and monasteries across the British Isles. He has been researching Lincoln Castle for over 20 years and is Lincoln Cathedral Archaeologist.
Justin Garner-Lahire is the managing director at FAS Heritage, an archaeological research practice founded in 1993. He has excavated extensively on medieval sites in England and Scotland, having led major excavations at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, Lincoln Castle and Somerton Castle.
Richard Oram is Professor of Medieval and Environmental History, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, at the University of Stirling. He is President of the Scottish Castles Association, President of the Scottish Society for Northern Studies, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Society of Antiquaries.
Nicola Toop studied the early medieval Irish Sea region for her PhD and is a long-term researcher at FAS Heritage involved in archaeological and documentary research at castles and monasteries, such as Lincoln Castle and Bolton Abbey.
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