Sall Neuir Vex nor Molest

Heraldic plaque over the entrance to Carnasserie Castle, bearing the arms of Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, and his first wife, Jean Stewart, illegitimate daughter of King James V (divorced 1573), along with a Gàidhlig inscription interpreted "God [be] with O'Duibhne (Argyll)."
Heraldic plaque over the entrance to Carnasserie Castle, bearing the arms of Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of Argyll, and his first wife, Jean Stewart, illegitimate daughter of King James V (divorced 1573), along with a Gàidhlig inscription interpreted “God [be] with O’Duibhne (Argyll).”

Apud Edinburgh, xxj May, anno 1m vc lxvij.

The quhilk day, in presens of the lordis of secreit counsale, comperit Maistir Lauchlane Macklane, and made fayth, that he neuer obtenit licence of oure souerane ladie to pas to Rome for purchessing and impetratioun of the Bischoprick of the Ilis, nor na vther benefices pertening to Maister Johnne Carswell, bischope of the Ilis, nor neuir purchest the said bischoprick, nor the abbacie of Ycolmkill, or vtheris benefices in ony tyme bigane. Alwayes, for the mair aboundance, he renunces, ouergevis, and dischargeis, simpliciter, all rycht, titill, intres, and clame of rycht quhilk he hes, or can ony wayes pretend or clame, to the said bischoprick or vtheris the said Maister Johnnes benefices. Ratifeand and apprevand the rychtis and titillis maid to the said Maister Johnne of the samyn, be thir presentis, and sall neuir vex nor molest the said Maister Johnne in the peciabill broukinig and posseding of the said bischoprick and vtheris his benefices, move nor intent actioun, pley, nor questioun aganis him for the samyn during his liftyme. Quhairfoir the quenis maiestie, with adviss of the lordis of hir secreit counsale, suspendis, simpliciter, the lettres purchest of the aduocattis instance aganis the said Maister Lauchlane Makclane, denunceing him rebell and putting him to the horne, in defalt of finding of souerte to vnderly the law in the tolbuyth of Edinburgh vponn the xvij day of Aprile last bipast, for his passing furth of this realme, nocht intimatand the caus of his passing to his ordinar, nor how he maid his fynance, and als be ressoun of his noncomperance the said xvij day; and ordanis ane masser or vther officiar to relax the said Maister Lauchlane fra the proces of horning led vpouu him in the said mater, and to gif him the wand of peace, and that lettres be direct heirvpoun in deu forme, as effeirs.

Registrum Secreti Concilii, acta, vol. from March 1563 to June 1567, fo. 274.

Carnasserie Castle

The approach to Carnasserie Castle from the south-east. The castle is a ruined XVI century tower house, noted for its unusual plan and renaissance detailing. It is located around 2km to the north of Kilmartin, in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland.

The castle was built by reforming churchman John Carswell, who was Rector of Kilmartin, Chancellor of the Chapel Royal at Stirling, and later titular Bishop of the Isles. Carswell published the first book to be printed in Scottish Gaelic, a translation of John Knox’s Book of Common Order. Construction began in 1565 using masons brought from Stirling. Although the castle was notionally built for Carswell’s patron, the Earl of Argyll, he intended it as a personal residence for himself.

On Carswell’s death in 1572, the castle passed to his patron, the Earl of Argyll. Later, in 1643, the 8th Earl of Argyll sold Carnasserie to Sir Dugald Campbell, 3rd Baronet of Auchinbreck. Following the 9th Earl’s failed uprising in support of the Monmouth Rebellion, against James VII in 1685, the castle was blown up by Royalist forces. Although the outer walls remain largely undamaged, the ruins were never repaired. In the XIX century the estate was sold to the Malcolms of Poltalloch, who also own nearby Duntrune Castle. Today it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of Historic Scotland (no entrance fee; open in summer).

Carnasserie Castle grounds.

Carnasserie has only ever been slightly altered, in the late XVII century, and so presents an accurate picture of XVI century architecture. Although sited on raised ground close to a strategic pass at the head of Kilmartin Glen, it was designed more for domestic rather than military purposes.

The castle comprises a 5 storey tower house, with a longer three storey hall house, providing a substantial range of accommodation. At basement level are the remains of cellars and a kitchen with a large fireplace and water inlet. Above this is the large hall. This is connected to a large drawing room in the tower house, which retains its stone floor and large fireplace with carved stone decoration. A broad stair rises from the entrance to the hall, contained in a small tower to the north-west. A second smaller stair leads up from the hall to the parapet walk on three sides of the tower house. Upper rooms would have contained bedrooms.

Parapet staircase, Carnasserie Castle.

The exterior displays numerous “double keyhole” gunloops, as well as decorative string courses and corbelling. Over the entrance are blank panels framed by carved supports, as well as the arms of the 5th Earl of Argyll with the motto DIA LE UA NDUIBHNE, “God be with O’Duine,” referring to the semi-legendary ancestors of Clan Campbell. At the top of the tower are the remains of open rounds along the parapet, and a caphouse above the stair. Fragments of carved drain spouts have been found, and are on display in the cellars.

To the south and west is a partially walled courtyard garden. An archway bears the inscription SDC LHL 1681, for Sir Duncan Campbell, 4th Baronet and Lady Henrietta Lindsay, whose support for Argyll’s uprising led to the castle’s destruction.