coastal ruins


Knap of Howar, Orkney Islands, Scotland

The Knap of Howar on the island of Papa Westray is a Neolithic farmstead which may be the oldest preserved stone house in northern Europe. Radiocarbon dating shows that it was occupied from 3700 BC to 2800 BC, earlier than the similar houses in the settlement at Skara Brae on the Orkney Mainland.The farmstead consists of two adjacent rounded rectangular thick-walled buildings with very low doorways facing the sea. The larger and older structure is linked by a low passageway to the other building, which has been interpreted as a workshop or a second house. Though they now stand close to the shore, they would have originally lain inland. The stone furniture is intact giving a vivid impression of life in the house. Items found in middens (refuse heaps) show that the inhabitants were keeping cattle, sheep and pigs, cultivating barley and wheat and gathering shellfish as well as fishing for species which have to be line caught using boats. Finds of finely-made and decorated Unstan ware pottery link the inhabitants to chambered cairn tombs nearby and to sites far afield including Balbridie and Eilean Domhnuill. The name Howar is believed to be derived from Old Norse word haugr meaning mounds or barrows.


McDermott’s Castle on Castle Island, County Roscommon, Ireland

A castle has stood on Castle Island in Lough Key since the 12th century. The present castle is a folly that was built around 1800 by the King family. It was built as a summer house but it burned during the Second World War. Read more about McDermott’s Castle here.


Ferrycarrig Castle, County Wexford, Ireland

Ferrycarrig Castle was built in the 15th century by the Roach family on the north bank of the River Slaney near Ferrycarrig. It was built to guard the ferry and the river traffic. The Roche’s lost their titles and lands in the early 1600’s in the Cromwellian invasion and following plantation.


Aros Castle, Isle of Mull, Scotland

The ruins of Aros Castle, lying about 2 km northwest of Salen, constitute a prominent landmark on the west coast of the Sound of Mull. They occupy a strategically important position on a flat-topped promontory.
The principal remains are those of a 13th century hall-house and bailey defended on the landward side by a ditch and bank.

The castle was probably built by one of the MacDougall lords of Lorn in the 13th century. It first comes on record as ‘Dounarwyse Castle’ in the later 14th century when it was in the possession of the Lords of the Isles. It appears to have been garrisoned by Argyll’s troops in 1690, though it was described two years previously as ‘ruinous, old, useless and never of any Strength’. Throughout the 18th century the lands of Aros were farmed by a succession of Campbell tacksmen, but there is no record of the castle having been inhabited at this period.