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Castle Cluggy



Added on 17 February 2024

WE HAVE COMMISSIONED a specialist art studio to visualise what Castle Cluggy looked like many years ago. This will be a complete external reconstruction, with a couple of different views and maybe a few figures outside, as well as a cutaway of the tower from the East showing some internal activity. The images will be large enough to use on interpretation panels in the future. Castle Cluggy is a beguiling castle, with lots of nooks and crannies and features of interest. However, because of later alterations it is not an easy building to understand. Staircases, fireplaces and arrow slits or gun holes appear in the most unlikely places. We asked an eminent Professor of Medieval and Environmental History for his comments on the physical appearance of the tower to ensure only historically correct artwork is produced and to get a better understanding of the spaces before we carry on to the final stages. 

The internal recess into which the door opened suggests that the doorway was in roughly the same position as the existing one. We have not included a stair because there is no evidence at all for where it was located, what form it took, or how the different levels were accessed from it. It is more honest to say in our interpretation that we do not know what the stair provision was but it might have been an intramural spiral stair in one of the corners that has fallen, or it could even have been a built internal wooden stair. The timber external stair is being presented as a substantial structure rather than a ladder. A 'ladder' in medieval terms simply means a wooden stair rather than the kind of builder's ladder that was often imagined in 19th-century reconstructions. The basement would have been a storage area and in the absence of evidence for an external door was presumably accessed via a hatch from the first floor or down the stair (wherever that was). The first floor room at best is likely to have been a fairly functional space, possibly serving as a waiting area where visitors were held before being taken up to the 'hall' level above. It is is likely that benches would have been placed in here rather than in the more formal upper room. Chairs were expensive and reserved for people of importance. The stone window seats help to emphasise that this was not without its comforts and was intended for occupation rather than just for service - people would have sat in the window seats and looked out at the view. There would be a 'high' end and a 'low' end on the second floor hall. The high end is furthest from the entry point. The fire is likely to have been positioned behind the high end of the table (which would be placed transversely, parallel to the fireplace, rather than perpendicular to it. The laird's chair would be placed centrally, flanked by those for his family and principal guests. The 'low' table would extend perpendicular to that, with the seating diminishing in status the further away from the fireplace you were. The chamber with bed would have been the highest room beneath the garret. This was where the laird conducted private business and spent most of his 'family' time. Based on what can still be seen in places like Huntingtower Castle (another Murray stronghold), it would likely have been brightly painted, the ceilings in particular being highly decorated in that way. The attic/garret is likely to have provided accommodation for some of the personal servants who needed to be on call for the laird and his wife. From the geophysical survey, there was an anomaly on the North East (NE) corner, which means the line of the east wall returned almost immediately after the 'raggles' (thin grooves cut in stonework to hold the edge of a roof) at the current NE and SE angles. The tower is rectangular but not quite as elongated as first thought, so we have moved the wall back to the blue dotted line (image attached). There will be out-buildings shown because the tower must have been provided with some timber buildings along with stables, kitchens, and accommodation for servants and the garrison of men at arms. This is a lovely project to work on.