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Bringing History and Nature to Life


Argyll + Bute, Scotland, PA29 6UD


LATEST  18 March 2023

Our organisation  -  Tarbert Castle Trust  -  has a new Secretary and a new Treasurer.
 These appointments follow the decision of our knowledgeable, determined, and enormously dedicated, combined Secretary and Treasurer, Robert McPhail, to hang up whatever it is that one hangs up when one has been as popular and highly respected an officer of the Trust for as long as Robert.  He has been an essential element of the Castle's tight-knit and effective volunteer team since its inception in the current form.

Without Robert's contribution, the Castle would not have developed into the popular and well-maintained visitor attraction  -  and place of relaxation and exercise for the community  -  that we know today.  It is testament to Robert's capacity and enthusiasm for his efforts with the Castle that his responsibilities will henceforth be divided between two (equally enthusiastic, and no less capable) established volunteers.  We thank Lorna Rushton and Jim Curnyn for stepping up to their new roles as, respectively, Secretary and Treasurer.

The new officers' contact details are as follows.

The Trust's postal address is now:-

Tarbert Castle Trust, per
William Duncan (Argyll) Ltd
The Old Surgery
School Road
PA29 6UL

November 2022
The Project Final Report (October 2022) for our Community Excavation (Summer 2019)  -  which we branded as the "Our Castle of Kings" project  -  has been produced by our archaeologist Roddy Regan, and can be viewed here (.pdf, 10.5MB).

It's well worth a read, and offers a greater understanding of our much-visited and much-loved ancient monument.

Autumn 2022: Scroll down to read our latest (i.e. Autumn 2022) Newsletter

Summer 2022: Scroll down to read our latest (i.e. Summer 2022) Newsletter

Autumn 2021: Scroll down to read our Autumn 2021 Newsletter

Summer 2021: Scroll down to read our Summer 2021 Newsletter

Spring 2021: Scroll down to read our Spring 2021 Newsletter

22 Sep 2020: Our final Funder Report & Evaluation for the principal funder of our 2019 Community Dig ("Our Castle of Kings") is now available to read via our dedicated Archaeological Dig page.

Quick links to our most recent newsletters. (Newsletter opens in a new window)

Autumn 2022    LATEST EDITION
Summer 2022
Autumn 2021
Summer 2021
Spring 2021
Autumn 2020
Summer 2020
Spring 2020
Autumn 2019
Summer 2019
Spring 2019
Winter 2018
Summer 2018
Spring 2018
Autumn 2017
Summer 2017
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tct logo

We care for a part of Scotland’s history

which belongs to our community

Autumn 2022


Tarbert Castle volunteers spent a productive Saturday morning recently, as part of the regular work parties held on the first Saturday of each month.

  • Work is progressing, with a new fence around our Hebridean sheep pen.  Having lost a few of the oldest individuals last year, we have four new “girls”  -  bringing us up to fifteen, which is our ideal number.  Volunteers are feeding the sheep daily throughout the winter.
  • Our promotional video for Tarbert’s not-for-profit organisations is up and running on screens in the library in Harbour Street, and at the Harbour Authority premises, as well as a number of websites including our own homepage (  The video is available also on YouTube, with over 2,000 viewings since its launch.  Our thanks go to all who helped and funded this project, as we are sure that it will increase visitors’ experience of the village.
  • Floodlighting of the Castle’s tower house is changing over to LED-type fittings.  These will reduce the site’s electricity consumption.  We will also reset the time clock, so that  -  in accordance with recommendations  -  the floodlights will not be switched on until after 7.00pm (as our contribution to relieving pressure on the National Grid during the hours of peak demand).

tarbert academy work experience

  • We are pleased to have four pupils from Tarbert Academy carrying out work experience activities on Friday afternoons; this not only helps the students themselves, but the work that they do  -  assisting with sheep care and the orchard, together with scything, strimming, and general vegetation control  -  is a great contribution to keeping the Castle Heritage Park in good condition.
  • Our volunteer who looks after our website has put in a lot of work registering the Castle Trust with the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF Bank).  CAF has arranged for us a dedicated donation page which is linked directly from our website.  The page offers a safe and secure way for visitors and friends of the Castle to give financial support, and for the Trust to manage received donations.  CAF has also issued to us a unique QR Code, which we will, shortly, display on discreet signs at our on-site interpretation point and elsewhere.  Scanning the QR Code with the camera of a smartphone allows a donor to find quickly the donations page.
  • Here’s a copy of the QR Code, in case you wish to try it out with your own smartphone, in the comfort of your own home:-

tct donate qr code





The final report for our 2019 “Our Castle of Kings” Community Archeological Dig is now complete, and is available to view via our website homepage (


We have submitted a Scheduled Monument application to Historic Environment Scotland (HES), and, if permission is granted, we will carry out more path improvements, giving better safety to visitors accessing the site.  With over 40,000 visitors per year, wear and tear on unsurfaced areas is considerable.  HES is resistant to these path works, and has refused in the past, but our proven visitor numbers and obvious ground conditions in some areas might, on this occasion, secure their approval.  We really hope so.

While we were photographing the proposed path areas, showing their condition on a windy and wet November morning, two visitors from Staffordshire appeared, praising the village  -  and the Castle as a visitor attraction  -  and kindly gave us a donation towards the new paths.  The following very wet photograph shows just how extended the visitor season now is:-


rainy day visitors



On behalf of everyone, residents and visitors, I would like to thank all our volunteers, who contribute a great deal in different ways to everything we report, to make the Castle the popular visitor attraction and local leisure area which it has become.


Our work parties are on the first Saturday of each month, from 10.00 am.  All are welcome to pay us a visit, and to consider whether they could contribute to our much-loved local asset by volunteering to assist with general maintenance and projects.


All the best,





Tarbert Castle Trust

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Charity No. SC043056

Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail, MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, TARBERT, Argyll, PA29 6TU

E-mail:,  Tel: 01880 820643





We care for a part of Scotland’s history which belongs to our community.

NEWSLETTER No.25  -  Summer 2022

On 6 August 2022, Tarbert Castle volunteers had a productive morning at the latest of our regular work parties.  These take place on the first Saturday of each month.

The team repaired fences, cleared path edges of encroaching vegetation, and brought the orchard maintenance up-to-date with some judicious strimming and weeding.

Large quantities of soft fruit have already been harvested by residents, with later maturing fruit still to come.

Other essential work continues.  Some of our sheep did their bit, putting in a popular appearance as they were swiftly and adeptly sheared at this year’s highly successful Seafood Festival.  The remainder were due to be sheared on Saturday 13 August.  Our thanks go to Lynne, for her invaluable contribution in this regard.

It's a relief to see that visitor numbers have now returned to normal as the pandemic effect has reduced, with even US Dollars appearing in our donation box.

In January 2022, we added a new stats facility for  We're pleased to note that, since the beginning of the year, the website has welcomed 2,100 unique visitors.  It's in the nature of the internet that the figure quoted includes representation from a wide range of countries around the globe.

Early in spring 2022, we hosted a big photo shoot for a well-known international brand, which is planning the launch of a new range of products in March 2023.

Also, members of our local spinning group organised a photo shoot of their own work.  You may have seen this on Facebook.

In July 2022, we again served as a wedding venue, and, that same month, two hundred orienteers visited the site for a day of activities.

All of these events contribute donations, which help with maintenance at the Castle and Heritage Park.  In addition, they create trade for retail outlets, accommodation providers, hospitality venues, and other businesses, in the village and the surrounding area.

In the very near future, we (Tarbert Castle Trust), working with Tarbert (Loch Fyne) Harbour Authority, will launch a promotional video.  It will feature some twenty local not-for profit-organisations and events, which together offer a selection of activities of interest to visitors, and it will run on two screens in the village  -  one on the Harbour Walkway, the other in our local Live Argyll Library.  A version will also be viewable on local websites.

Our website continues to attract online and bank transfer donations, and we are working towards providing scannable QR codes on-site at the Castle, so that visitors will have the option of donating effortlessly via their smartphone.

On behalf of everyone  -  resident and visitor alike  -  who uses the Castle and Heritage Park for recreation, I wish to thank all our volunteers, who, individually and as a team, contribute a great deal in various ways to all the activity which we report on this website, and who, in so doing, make the Castle and Heritage Park the popular and much-loved visitor attraction (and local leisure area) which it has become.

Our work parties are held on the first Saturday of each month, from 10.00 am.  All are welcome  -  simply to pay us a visit, or even to explore becoming more involved.  We're always pleased to have new volunteers willing to assist with projects and general maintenance.

With best wishes,


Tarbert Castle Trust
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU

E-mail:                          Tel: 01880 820643


We care for a part of Scotland’s history which belongs to our community.

NEWSLETTER No.24  -  Autumn 2021


Our new path in the woodland has proved very successful, and a great deal of clearing of bracken, etc., has been carried out, together with tree-pruning to keep paths clear.  The pond, together with its supply ditch, has been worked on as usual, but the pond has been very low in water over the summer.  Dragonflies have been very busy in later summer, and the wild flower meadow area is developing. 

At several work parties we have discussed the orchard, which as volunteers know, takes a great deal of maintenance time.  Soft fruit has done exceptionally well this year, apart from blackberries, some of which developed a brown leaf blight (which apparently spreads from wild brambles).  Our trees are maturing well  -  apart from some losses, which are inevitable  -  but not producing much fruit so far.

Despite Covid-19 and weather limitations, volunteers have worked hard, removing encroaching brambles and plenty of other weed growth on the Castle site, the Orchard and the Woodland.  Repairs to the timber stairs are ongoing, together with timber treatment and path maintenance.

The following summarises our intentions for the coming year:-

  • We will replace one row of blackberries with cane raspberries planted in a timber-surrounded bed, to limit weeding and allowing remainder of the mound to be more easily strimmed.
  • We will add to blueberries and gooseberries by planting in pots located on a platform.  If possible, we will move potted raspberries to this also, making them easier to manage.  We will add a frame to the platform, for a bird net, and locate some large water tanks nearby.
  • On tree rows, we will trial one row, protecting the trees with timber at low level and removing the plastic ground cover which has restricted weed growth, allowing small trees to mature.  The tops of mounds will be prepared for grass, which can be strimmed.  Ditches will still need controlling, but hopefully maintenance will be easier.  We will also trial battery electric strimmers, as I now have one and find it very convenient for relatively light work on grass.
  • None of the above will cost much, but will take volunteer time and effort, hopefully reducing this in future years while increasing fruit production.
  • We will continue planting our willow “fedge” this year, along the fence line.
  • We have 50 free trees ordered which should arrive in January for planting in the Woodland.
  • We have no firm plans for more Castle exploration, but continue to discuss this with our Archaeologist, who hopes to complete, by the end of this year (2021), publication of the work done on completed digs, by which time the last of the detailed laboratory reports delayed by Covid-19 should be in our possession.
  • Our sheep continue their sterling work.  They are cared for, winter and summer, by our volunteers.

If anyone wishes to comment on any of this, or has any other suggestions, please let me know.

On behalf of everyone, residents and visitors, I would like to thank all our volunteers, who contribute a great deal in different ways to make our ancient Castle the visitor attraction and local leisure area which it has become.



Work parties take place on the first Saturday of each month, from 10.00 am.  If attending, please continue, for the time being, to bring your own tea break ingredients/materials.  On site, we have hand and tool sanitiser, and social distancing continues.  Please feel free to pay us a visit.  We enjoy meeting visitors and explaining our work.

With best wishes,


Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU





We care for a part of Scotland’s history

which belongs to our community


Newsletter No.23
Summer 2021



20 kilos of soft fruit have been harvested this summer with a particular increase in blueberries.  Still only a small number of apples on our immature trees.  Removal of weeds has occupied a lot of volunteer time, both here and in woodland, but the latter is now developing nicely, enclosing paths surrounding the pond.


We reported, in the spring, how our income had collapsed due to COVID-19, but we are delighted that visitor numbers have recovered and that donations are at pre-Covid levels.  The increased numbers, of course, bring wear and tear maintenance issues on access routes.  Volunteers have been kept busy, improving path/steps in entrance area and repairs to timber stairs.


The National Galleries of Scotland have asked us for a talk and digital presentation of our project for a supporting event around the United Nations framework convention on climate change.  Below is an attempt to summarise our activities during the past 17 years.  We will be enlarging particularly upon “Health & Wellbeing” and “Land & Nature stewardship”  -  highlighted in green  -  which are the topics most relevant to the event, which is around volunteering as a force to help with the climate challenges ahead.  Highlighted in yellow are, however, essential supporting volunteer work, and influences which enable other activities to be planned and progressed.


The activities represent a considerable range of interests, benefits, and responsibilities pursued by volunteers over many hundreds of hours, all resulting from the core of community ownership.


A group of experienced volunteers, supervised by our archaeologist Roddy Regan, have explored an area at the West Loch (West Loch Tarbert) where the account of Robert the Bruce include a cost to construct a “pele”, or signal station, at the head of the loch.

We exposed and surveyed what appears to be a stone-built base, with direct line of site to the Castle.  We found no material which would allow us to date the structure or to suggest what might have been located on the base.

Roddy will summarise the investigation and, in due course, we will report further in a newsletter.


Work parties are on the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m.  For the time being, please continue to bring your own tea break ingredients.  We have hand and tool sanitiser on site, and social distancing will continue.  All are welcome to pay us a visit.

Best wishes,


Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU





Description: Logo

We care for

a part of Scotland’s history

which belongs to our community

Newsletter No.22
Spring 2021


The draft final report prepared by our archaeologist Roddy Regan can be viewed on our web site.  This is a final pre-publication draft, because Covid-19 has delayed some expert technical reports which will be incorporated in due course.

We have already presented the project to various groups who requested before lockdown, and still hope to have, a public presentation in Tarbert as soon as Covid allows.


We now have a dedicated Donations page on our website, accessed by clicking on “Support our Work” at  At the castle itself, displayed QR codes1 will give visitors quick access to the page.

Members and visitors can choose a donation amount, and can pay with Paypal or Bank Transfer for internet banking.  Any member who is able to make a donation is welcome to test the facility by donating an amount  - large or small.  Every little helps.  :-)

We hope that the Donations page will maintain funds in the future, and we're working on the development of an on-site contactless donation facility in our new interpretation area. 

Needless to say, the pandemic lockdowns have decimated donations from visitors, but the new flag is now up, and it's ready to welcome the return of visitors this spring.





We're pleased to report that, despite Covid-19, and thanks to some careful planning and social distancing, our on-site maintenance work has continued.  Our sheep have survived the winter with the loss of just one of the oldest girls. 

With the planting of another hundred trees, volunteers have completed a new 105 metre path, running the whole way around the pond in the Community Woodland.  The path now forms a circular walk around the woodland and through the previously planted trees, which are maturing nicely.

Our thanks go to Tarbert Academy, which helped us with this project by donating some spare gravel.


image015.jpg  image016.jpg


image017.jpg  image018.jpg



We will re-commence our work parties on the first Saturday of the month from May onwards.  10.00 am at the castle, but please continue to bring your own tea break materials for the time being.  We do have hand, and tool, sanitiser on-site, and social distancing will continue meantime.  All are welcome to pay us a visit.


Keep safe,



1.  QR Codes  -  see


Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU




Description: Logo

We care for
a part of Scotland’s history
which belongs to our community

NEWSLETTER No.21  -  Autumn 2020



The draft final report prepared by our professional archaeologist Roddy Regan can now be viewed on our website.  It is a final pre-publication draft, because Covid-19 has delayed some expert technical reports which will in due course be incorporated.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has accepted this on the basis of our evaluation  -  which is also on our website  -  and has congratulated us on a very successful project, meeting all its objectives, on time and on budget.

We have already presented the project to various groups who requested same before lockdown, and we still hope to have a public presentation in Tarbert as soon as Covid will allow.

In the meantime, there is a display in the central window of the Tarbert Life heritage premises in Harbour Street, which has been of interest to visitors, and which we think has contributed to the exceptional number of visitors to the Castle in the past few weeks.



This project, to enhance visitor facilities, is in five parts:-

The canopy and cairn helped by grant from the National Lottery community fund

The design and manufacture of new interpretation panels, including the dig outcomes, and the remainder of our Heritage Park. These have been provided with a grant from Cour Wind Farm community benefit.

The provision of a donation facility on our website now established.

Proposal for a contactless donation unit – this is experimental as, although these are now common in museums, etc., we appear to be leading with an outdoor provision

Replacement of the very popular round picnic table at the interpretation area. This and the contactless unit have been helped by the Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust (TSCT) community benefit fund.

We’re making progress, and we plan to complete all of the above before next spring season (i.e. Spring 2021).

The 2020 Interpretation Centre

Design drawing for the 2020 Interpretation Centre





We have had a good few weeks after lockdown, with record numbers visiting the Castle and woodland, but will experience a considerable drop in our modest visitor income over the whole year.

We now have a dedicated donations page on our website, accessed by clicking on “Support our work” on, and QR codes on site will give visitors quick access.

Members and visitors can choose a donation amount, and pay with Paypal or Bank Transfer for internet banking. Any members who are able to make a donation would be a useful test of the facility.

We hope this will help in the future, and, as indicated above, we are working on development of an onsite contactless donation facility in our new interpretation area.



Despite Covid-19, and with careful planning and social distancing, maintenance work has continued on site.  Shortly, volunteers will commence feeding our sheep through the winter.

If anyone would like to try taking part in this, which basically means a visit for half an hour once a week, please contact Robert at

Volunteers have commenced a new project, to form a path right around the pond in the Community Woodland, with the planting of a further fifty trees this autumn.

Our next volunteer morning will be at 10.00am on SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER 2020.  Until Covid is out of the picture, please bring your own tea break.  ALL WELCOME.  There’s plenty to do.

Keep safe,


Tarbert Castle Trust
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, TARBERT, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail:                                                        Tel: 01880 820643




We care for
a part of Scotland’s history

which belongs to
our community

NEWSLETTER No.20 - Summer 2020

Based on the text of a press release sent to the Argyllshire Advertiser w/c 20.7.20:-

In the spring of 2019, as reported in the Advertiser, Tarbert Castle volunteers, supported by our professional archaeologist Roddy Regan and Kilmartin Museum education department, carried out an extensive archaeological dig on the Scheduled Monument, with some 52 volunteers, and 250 young people from schools and youth groups in Argyll, taking part.

An exhibition, of a selection of what we found, learned, and achieved, is currently on display in the central window of the TSCT* Tarbert Life project in the centre of Tarbert village, to provide an interest for the returning visitors, whom we are pleased to see are making the village very busy after our quiet period in lockdown.  Monitored this week, it is clear that "staycation" visitors have been enjoying the Castle Heritage Park in unprecedented numbers.

The 2019 dig made the major discovery of a previously unknown western entrance:-

“The remains of a portcullis slot were uncovered, shedding new light on how the castle was constructed, approached, and defended.  It represents a previously unknown, and highly significant, part of the site, and we commend the (Tarbert Castle) Trust for its discovery and careful excavation”. 
Barbara Cummins, Director of Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland

Volunteers have just completed a further small dig, funded by donations, to prove the assumed existence of an entrance of some kind at the eastern side of the castle, facing Loch Fyne and between the two round towers at that location.

We can now confirm that such an eastern entrance did exist, identical in size to the discovered western entrance with portcullis slot and door check.  This is another remarkable result, as very few, if any, castles will have been built in Scotland with two fully defended major entrances.

The eastern entrance would have provided access for arrivals by sea, and the birlinns (galleys) of Robert the Bruce would have been beached in the bay below.  The northern curtain wall of the castle, rising direct from the rocky seashore, and with no access around what we now know as Pier Road, would have necessitated this western entrance to give access from Kintyre.

Artist's impression of recently discovered East Gate

Sheila Campbell, chair of Tarbert Castle Trust (TCT), confirms that volunteers will now proceed with updated and additional interpretation, below a grass turf-roofed canopy funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and Cour Windfarm Community Benefit.

The Trust is working also on a project to install a contactless donations facility, as part of the new visitor interpretation area, in a further effort to raise funds and thereby become sustainable in our efforts to (i) look after our conservation grazing sheep and (ii) keep volunteers equipped to carry out their site management and improvement plans.

We send heartfelt thanks to our supporters  -  from as far and wide as Canada, the Cotswolds, and the Lake District  -  who have helped to fund the dig, and equally to our tireless, enthusiastic, dedicated, and reliable volunteers in the Tarbert area. 

Our website  -  -  now has a dedicated donations page.

Our volunteers have been making great efforts to catch up with maintenance  -  difficult during COVID-19 lockdown  -  and our next morning session will take place at 10am (1000 hrs) on Saturday 1 August, as usual.

Please bring your own tea break, to avoid cup washing during this difficult time.

Plenty for everyone to do.

Keep safe,


*TSCT = Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust.


Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056
Secretary/Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail:                                                                 Tel: 01880 820643




On Thursday 2 July 2020, our professional archaeologist Roddy Reagan, in conducting a preliminary investigation at the east (i.e. Loch Fyne) end of the castle site, discovered a significant, but previously unconfirmed, entrance to the defences.  This gateway, which includes a dressed red sandstone doorway featuring a portcullis slot, lies between the twin "drum" towers which face east towards the outer harbour and the sea loch beyond.

This is a major discovery  -  not only for Tarbert Castle, but also as a significant expansion of the recorded knowledge of Scottish medieval fortresses.

In centre of this view, looking towards the ground, is dressed red sandstone of doorway, incorporating the portcullis slot.

We already have consent for a small dig in this location, but we have been able to proceed with this investigation due only to a generous donation of support, received in June 2020, from a gentleman in the Lake District.

Understandably, we are now more keen than ever to expand the dig, with our volunteers assisting to further record details.  However, to do so, we will need to find approximately £2500.

At this difficult time  -  COVID-19  -  we would appreciate hugely any donation which our friends, visitors, and supporters are able to offer by way of helping us to do justice to this already exciting development.

To that end, you may find that the following details are helpful:- 

Bank Account

Tarbert Castle Trust

Bank of Scotland

Account No. 16933361

Sort code  80-22-60

Alternatively, a cheque made out to TCT, and posted to our Secretary & Treasurer Robert McPhail MBE, at Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, TARBERT, PA29 6TU, would have the same, very welcome, effect.




Support our Work


We care for
a part of Scotland’s history

which belongs to
our community

NEWSLETTER No.19 - Spring 2020

We hope that you're all well, and coping with the lockdown. 

The efforts made by Team Tarbert, the Community Trust, and other volunteers, to help those who need it, are remarkable, and our community is very fortunate to have such people around us in these trying times.


Our own volunteers have been checking our sheep, but all other work on the site has more or less stopped.

During the winter, working with Tarbert Academy pupils and Guides, we planted some 200 trees.  The woodland will be available for future generations, and this work expanded it close to the village.  We also completed new handrails and safety strips on steps and landings.

The orchard trees have been all been mulched/pruned and, throughout the site, we've made progress with cutting back of rampant bramble growth.  Unfortunately for our volunteers, we've no option but to keep on top of this repetitive task.  Thankfully, though, there are other tasks available, so it never needs to get monotonous. 

We started the work on the improved interpretation area, but had to abandon that during the present lockdown.  We'll get back to it, as soon as we can.


We now have Scheduled Monument consent in place for

  • A new archaeological dig, to explore the possibility of an eastern entrance
  • Construction of the improved interpretation area
  • Consolidation work to allow us to leave visible to the public the location of the discovered western entrance

Securing these consents took considerable effort with Historic Environment Scotland (HES), mainly due to staff problems at the latter (now resolved).  We express our thanks to Roddy and all those who supported us.

Design work is complete. and materials have been sourced for all of this work, so, as soon as we think it is safe to do so, we will progress it on site. 


The new on-site visitor donation arrangements, which we organised last year, were working well, and our maintenance costs were on course to becoming sustainable.   But, unfortunately, Covid-19 caused our income  -  in common with that of many others  - to crash, and our visitor numbers are unlikely to recover in the near future.  This may delay some activity, but we're looking at how to overcome the problem.

The plans for the improved interpretation area include preparation for contactless donations to be made on site, but, as this is costly to establish and run, we can't proceed immediately.  However, it's almost certainly the way ahead for us, as soon as we can afford it.


If there's anyone out there who can spare us an hour or two.....
There are still brambles to be cut back in woodland areas.  And some strimming of new bracken growth, where we have planted trees this year, would be helpful and appreciated.  
In the shelter, there's a very long bent-prong rake which we've been gifted, and it is excellent for removing weed from the woodland pond.

Please bear in mind that, if you are working alone, you should take a mobile phone with you, in case of accident.

Keep safe,


Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056
Secretary/Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail:                                                                 Tel: 01880 820643




AS WINTER ARRIVES, here's some very positive tree-planting news from the Castle Trust...



NEWSLETTER No.18 - November 2019




Volunteers at Tarbert Castle have been planting trees again this year (2019) as a community contribution to reducing the effect of carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.  The work is all part of a national programme to deal with the urgent crisis affecting the world.

We have 160 new trees, and associated protection and fertiliser, supplied through a grant from the Tree Council’s “Tree Futures” programme and from the “I Dig Trees” programme organised by TCV Scotland, and with help from “Volunteering Matters” action earth programme.
















Planting is being carried out by Tarbert Academy’s Forest School and a group of senior pupils who do their “Rural Skills” practical work at the Castle.  Our own dedicated volunteer team is organising and assisting with the activity and will be planting during our volunteer work parties.




Robert McPhail, secretary and treasurer of the Trust, explained that, during the last 5 - 6 years, the Trust and its volunteers have planted over 1000 trees in the Community Woodland and Orchard,  which form part of the Castle’s Heritage Park.

During spring, summer, and autumn 2019, the Trust recorded over 40,000 visitors to the Heritage Park as a whole.

















If you'd like to be part of the ongoing activities at our Heritage Park please get in touch with us.  Here are our contact details:-

A community based organisation to protect, care for and expand the educational potential of Tarbert Castle.
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056.
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd., TARBERT, Argyll, PA29 6TU
Tel: 01880 820643



NEWSLETTER No.17 - Summer 2019


Our dig is completed, but for some backfilling and removal of excess stone.  If you would like any stone for your garden projects, it is free  -  just contact us to discuss.

The dig has exceeded our objectives, with more volunteers and young people involved than planned.  Finds of medieval pottery, etc., and the discovery of a never before recorded main entrance from the west, with dressed stone reveals showing an opening some 3m wide, door check and portcullis slot.  This entrance must have been imposing; approached by a ramp, with the older castle on the right, and King Robert the Bruce’s tower on the left.  There would be an archway over, with a compartment above to allow the portcullis to be raised.

Above: Entrance excavation, showing door check and portcullis slot

The weather was great, and, apart from having to abandon the site one day at lunchtime due to midges, every programmed day saw enthusiastic, if sometimes very heavy, work by volunteers and our professional archaeologist Roddy Regan.  Kilmartin Museum’s education team managed large groups of young people from schools in Kintyre and Knapdale and great weekend organised by Tarbert Guides.  Return visits will be made to schools in a feedback program by the education team.

We wish to record our thanks to ALL those involved, including funders, and I think we can say it was enjoyed by everyone who took part.

Roddy will now be taking some time to prepare, study, and seek, where required, expert advice on finds and features discovered and their significance in the castle’s story.  The final report will be published early next year, and will be available to download through our website.

Tarbert Castle Trust (TCT) will also assess how to best interpret results for visitors, and Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust (TSCT) directors have agreed that, where possible, finds will be displayed at “Tarbert Life”  -  the village’s fascinating new heritage centre.


Those who took part, and others, are asking if we will do more exploration, and I think this is a certainty in future years if funding can be achieved.

We’ve received a grant from the Tree Council for more tree planting, and Rural Skills pupils from Tarbert Academy will assist with this in the autumn.

We’re continuing to monitor the numbers accessing the site, with more than 6000 visitors during the dig, most interested in what we were doing and asking numerous questions. 

Meantime, due to 100% commitment during the last two months, a great deal of work is required on the orchard, woodland, and the site generally, and we need all the volunteer help we can muster.

Our next volunteer work party will be the first Saturday in August (Saturday 3 Aug), but meantime, if you can help, there is strimming and cutting back growth that can be tackled anytime.  E-mail or phone to discuss  - or 01880 820643

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No. SC043056
Secretary & Treasurer: Robert McPhail MBE, Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll, PA29 6TU
E-mail: Tel: 01880 820643



Contractors Laing Traditional Masonry have been been working over a period of three years, with a total contract value of £750,000, to consolidate stonework on the Tower House.  This work is now complete

We are looking at new proposals for community archaeology on the site, working with Adopt-a-Monument and Kilmartin House Museum.

We have determined that twelve sheep is the ideal number for the site.  The sheep are on site for conservation grazing, and this is very effective in achieving low-maintenance cropped turf, rather than the big task of strimming, which would be the only alternative.  TCI volunteer shepherds continue to look after the flock each day.

We have a new project on land behind the Castle  -  the Castle's very own Community Woodland  -  and volunteers have completed clearing the ditch, forming the pool, planting trees, and preparing fencing and paths.

Volunteers and artists are now working on a Sculpture Walk.

This winter, we have just completed a new boardwalk, linking the Castle area to the woodland and sculpture walk, and providing a circular route to walk around the site.

Our Community Orchard is now complete.














The main access route has been upgraded, with the help of Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust (TSCT) and Paths for All.

See our menu item ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG for a summary of this new project, which is now programmed for 2019, and for which we hope to raise funds of £25,000.

The Castle property and surrounding area, which includes a Community Woodland and Orchard, is a unique heritage park, with something for everyone.

For activity information, check our Tarbert Castle Facebook page and our Twitter account.



NEWSLETTER No.16 – Spring 2019



We are still fundraising to maximise the community engagement, feedback and young people’s participation in our Archaeological dig but are on course to make a start this summer as planned.

We have some 200 bookings to take part from Tarbert, Carradale, Campbelltown and Lochgilphead residents with others as far afield as Oban, East Lothian, Glasgow, Arran, Bute and York. Schools throughout Kintyre and Knapdale are to take part and all will receive basic training in Archaeological skills.

An additional benefit from the dig is the considerable publicity our village and Heritage Park has been given through the fundraising, booking and information out there in print, on the web and social media about our proposals to explore the Castle’s history in a way never before achieved.

We are again monitoring visitor numbers and the early months of the year indicate that there will be an increase in excess of 25% since we last did this in 2014 with total accessing the site exceeding 20,000 over the year.

The only downside of the increased usage of the site is the wear and tear on the access paths etc and the consequential effect on the extent and cost of maintenance.


Helped by Tarbert academy “Rural Skills” group our volunteers continue to put in a considerable effort. We have recently created and new entrance arrangement from the village steps and are trying to achieve a donation funding level which will establish a sustainable future for the whole site and its contribution to the local economy. If anyone has any suggestions on fundraising activities we are listening !  

Next volunteer work party will NOT be first Saturday in May but will be SATURDAY 11TH MAY when we need help to set up for the dig.

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation Charity No SC043056
Secretary / Treasurer Robert McPhail,MBE Sonamarg, Ileene Rd, Tarbert, Argyll PA29 6TU
E Mail Tel 01880 820 643





You can now donate to project through our CROWD FUNDING portal

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