View Full Version : Ardclach Bell Tower

03-02-2010, 07:30 PM
Located 9ish miles outside Nairn, maps to follow to show you where it is.
Ardclach, Highland, Scotland.

South east of Nairn the A939 to Grantown on Spey passes through a remote upland area which is crossed by the valley of the River Findhorn as it makes its way from the Monadhliath Mountains to the Moray Firth. Minor single track roads west and south of the A939 lead to Ardclach, best known for its highly unusual bell tower.

Ardclach Bell Tower seems to have been built by the local laird, Alexander Brodie of Lethen, presumably in 1655. He was a Covenanter, a man whose religious beliefs had a decade earlier made him, in the eyes of many, a traitor to King Charles I. As a result his home and lands were attacked several times in 1645. In July 1654 there was another Royalist uprising in the Highlands. This was swiftly defeated, but it seems likely that it brought back unhappy memories of a decade earlier and prompted Alexander Brodie to build a small bolt hole to ensure that in the event of future trouble, he and his immediate family would have a safe retreat.

Externally the tower is very plain, with a door on the front wall, tiny windows in the front and rear walls at first floor level, and shot holes on the end gables. One gable has a chimney, while the other, which carries a date stone for 1655, is topped off with a belfry and bell.

Internally there are two rooms. The ground floor room is vaulted and windowless. The first floor room is slightly more appealing, benefitting from the small windows and a fireplace.

Archaeological Notes

NH94NE 1 95381 45334.

(NH 9538 4533) Belfry (NAT).
OS 6"map, (1960)

A detached tower, two storeys high and gabled, with a chimney on one gable and a belfry on the other. It is 14' square and bears the date 1655.
Built in restless country, its primary function was that of watch tower and local prison. When the parish kirk was built in a hollow below the knoll (NH94NE 3: Built 1626 rebuilt 1762), permission was obtained to erect the kirk belfry on the tower. (G Hay 1932)
Ritchie maintains that the tower was built 'long before' 1655, in which case that might be the date of the addition of the belfry. It is said to have been last used as a prison in 1676.
D MacGibbon and T Ross 1892; G Hay 1957; J B Ritchie 1932.

Harled and well-maintained, the tower is locally known and sign-posted as 'Ardclach Bell tower'.
Visited by OS (R D) 23 August 1965.



I'm taller than the door at the front.. I'm only 5 foot 2... So this shows you how small the door is. They key to the building is chained to the door itself so you go inside if you want and lock up after. It's tiny but worth visiting and Ardclach Parish is just down the hill (I wish I'd visited that now).



Pictures of the outside of the building.





The inside.

The prison/cell?


The small room upstairs (there's only one room it's that small)








That chain goes to the bell.. It still works. I had to be a big kid and find out, it sounds beautiful. :)


(I sadly don't have the Roy Map 27/3b of the area :( )

I got my information from;

03-02-2010, 07:37 PM
Nice, it's such a sweet li'l building this one :)

03-02-2010, 08:44 PM
A thorough documentation of a lovely wee (how clever am I using a Scottish word) place. Moved to the Heritage section :thumb

03-02-2010, 11:24 PM
What a cute place.........I like it :thumb

04-02-2010, 01:11 AM
Thank you ZimBob, EvilNoodle, PinCheck and BoxFrenzy (we'll get you eating Haggis soon ;) ) :)

04-02-2010, 01:15 AM
What a great looking little place......... Nice pics :thumb

Glad temptation got the better of you to ring the bell! :smclap