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home page events castle tours SCA Castle Tour of Lochaber, Morvern and Mull - Apr 2003


SCA Castle Tour of Lochaber, Morvern and Mull - Apr 2003


April


Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle

INVERLOCHY CASTLE

Location - OS map 41 (NN 120 754)

South Highland - About 1.5 miles north east of Fort William, on minor roads north of the A82, just south of the River Lochy, north of Claggan.

Structure

Inverlochy castle is a ruined 13th century castle of enclosure of the Comyns of Badenoch. It has a rectangular courtyard with a round tower at each corner, one larger than the others, probably the keep and known as 'Comyns Tower'. There are two entrances, opposite others, which had portcullises.

Brief History

The Comyns were destroyed by Robert the Bruce around 1308, and the castle was granted to the Gordons of Huntly in 1505. Major consolidation work has been completed. Two battles were fought nearby. In 1431 Donald Balloch and Alisdair Carrich led the MacDonalds to victory over an army of Stewarts, The Earl of Caithness being among those who were slain. In the second, the Marquis of Montrose led a force of Highlanders to victory over the Covenanters, led by his arch foe, the Campbell Earl of Argyll.


Tor Castle
Tor Castle

TOR CASTLE

Location - OS map 41 (NN 133 786)

South Highland - About 3 miles north east of Fort William, on minor roads south of the B8004, just west of the River Lochy, east of the Caledonian Canal, at Torcastle.

Structure

Tor Castle consists of a massive but very ruinous, tower house or keep which had a courtyard. It was probably built, or strengthened, at the end of the 14th century, although there has been a castle here since the 11th century.

Brief History

This is said to have been the stronghold of Banquo, of Macbeth fame. The lands were originally a property of the MacIntoshes, who built the castle. Tor was seized by the Camerons around 1380, and in the early 16th century it was rebuilt to protect them from the MacDonalds of Keppoch. It was used until after the Jacobite rising of 1745, when the last Cameron owner went into exile.


Invergarry Castle
Invergarry Castle

INVERGARRY CASTLE

Location - OS map 34 (NH 315 006)

South Highland - About 7 miles south west of Fort Augustus, on minor roads east of the A82, on the west bank of Loch Oich, south of Glengarry Castle Hotel.

Structure

A very impressive ruin, Invergarry Castle is a large 17th century L-plan tower house consisting of a main block of five-storeys with a six-storey round stairtower. The walls are pierced by shot-holes. The fortress stands on the 'Rock of the Raven', the slogan of the family. The basement does not appear to have been vaulted. A wide scale-and-platt stair climbed to the first floor in the wing, while the upper floors were reached by a stair tower in the re-entrant angle, as well as the round stair tower.

Brief History

The castle was built by the MacDonalds, or Clan Ranald, of Glengarry after raids by the MacKenzies in 1602. It was torched in 1654 by the forces of General Monck during Cromwell's occupation of Scotland. In 1688 Alastair MacDonald of Glengarry fortified it for James VII, but eventually submitted to the government of William and Mary in 1692. It was retaken by Alasdair Dubh of Glengarry in 1715, but it was recaptured by Hanoverian forces in 1716. The castle was back in the hands of the MacDonalds by 1731, and during the Jacobite Rising of 1745-46 was twice visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Afterwards it was burned by the 'Butcher' Duke of Cumberland.A new mansion was built nearby, on the site of which is Glengarry Hotel.


Ardtornish Castle

Ardtornish Castle

ARDTORNISH CASTLE

Location - OS map 49 (NM 692 426)

South Highland - About 1.5 miles south-eat of Lochaline, on minor road and foot 4 miles east of the A884, on Ardtornish point, on the north side of the Sound of Mull.

Structure

Not much remains of Ardtornish Castle, a simple 13th or 14th century hall house of the MacDonalds, built on a rocky crag. There are foundations of other buildings.

Brief History

The laird of MacInnes and five of his sons were murdered here around 1319. It was here that John MacDonald, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross, signed the treaty of 'Westminster-Ardtornish' in 1461, by which he, the Earl of Douglas, and Edward IV of England agreed to divide Scotland between them. The plan came to nothing, and James IV had destroyed the Lordship of the Isles by 1493. The castle then passed to the MacLeans, but was abandoned towards the end of the 17th century. The remains were consolidated at the beginning of the 20th century. Ardornish House is a mansion of 1856-66, and was a property of the Smiths in the 19th century. Ardornish Estate is a 35,000 acres Highland estate with 24 acres of established gardens around the house.


Kinlochaline Castle

Kinlochaline Castle

KINLOCHALINE CASTLE

Location - OS map 49 (NM 697 476)

South Highland - About 2.5 miles north of Lochaline, on minor roads east of the A884, at the northern end of Loch Aline, on the west side of the River Aline, at Kinlochaline.

Structure

Standing on a striking location, Kinlochaline Castle is an altered 15th century keep, rectangular in plan, originally of four storeys and a parapet walk. The corbelled-out parapet had open rounds, it was remodelled in the 16th century. An external stone stair leads to the hall on the first floor, with a guardroom beside the entrance. The hall has an arched fireplace over which is a stone panel featuring a naked woman. A stair leads down to the vaulted cellars, which are only lit by slits, while another turnpike stair, in one corner, leads to the parapet. There are stairs and passageways in the thickness of the walls. The original garret story has gone. In recent times a complete transformation has taken place with both internal changes and the building of a large two-storey garret with crow-stepped gables. Original open rounds have become conically roofed turrets. Sash and casement windows have been inserted into the openings. The old and the new have been given a uniform covering of harl. The building is now occupied.

Brief History

The castle was the seat of the MacInnes clan, hereditary bowmen to the MacKinnons. Following the murder of the laird and his sons by the MacKinnons at nearby Adtornish in 1319, the lands were given to the MacLeans of Duart. The castle was damaged, by the Marquis of Montrose's lieutenant Alasdair Colkitto MacDonald, in 1644, and later by Cromwell's forces in the 1650'. The castle was attacked by the Campbell Earl of Argyll in 1679 during a feud. It was abandoned about 1690, restored about 1890, but then deserted.


Castle Tioram

Castle Tioram

CASTLE TIORAM

Location - OS map 40 (NM 663 725)

South Highland - About 3 miles north of Acharacle in Moidart, on minor roads north of the A861, on a tidal island in the mouth of Loch Moidart.

Structure

A picturesque ruin in a wonderful setting, Castle Tioram stands on a tidal island. It consists of a massive 14th century curtain wall, surrounding an irregularly shaped courtyard, in which a tower house and ranges of stone buildings were added in the 16th century and later. The walls have open rounds, and a corbelled-out parapet. The entrance was defended by a machicolation. The basements are vaulted, but the upper floors have gone.

Brief History

Castle Tioram was modified by Amy MacRuari. Wife of John, 7th Lord of the Isles, who was divorced from her husband so he could marry Margaret, daughter of Robert II. The Clan Ranald branch of the MacDonalds came through her, and this became the seat of the MacDonalds of Clan Ranald. In 1554 it was attacked by a force under the Earls of Huntly and Argyll, and Cromwell's forces occupied the castle after a siege.

During the Jacobite Rising of 1715 the castle was torched so that Hanoverian forces could not us it, and the chief of Clan Ranald was killed at the battle of Sherriffmuir. It was never reoccupied, but lady Grange was imprisoned here for a few weeks in 1732 before being taken to the outer isles. The Castle was sold in 1997. Plans for its restoration have been put forward but are being opposed by Historic Scotland.


Mingary Castle

Mingary Castle

MINGARY CASTE

Location - OS map 47 (NM 502 631)

South Highland - About 1 mile east of Kilchoan, on minor roads and on foot south of the B8007. (The castle can be reached along the shore from Kilchoan pier) on the south coast of Ardamurchan.

Structure

Mingary Castle is a strong 13th castle of enclosure, with a high wall encircling the rock on which it stands. The main entrance was on the sea side, but there was another entrance across a drawbridge, over a walled ditch. Ranges of two storey buildings stand inside the curtain wall, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Brief History

Mingary was probably built by the MacIans of Ardnamurchan. It was occupied by James IV in 1493 and 1495 during his campaigns against the MacDonalds, and demolished or slighted it in 1517. The MacIan's supported the MacDonalds in the 1550's, and MacLean of Duart captured the chief of MacIan, then unsuccessfully attempted to besiege the castle with Spanish soldiers from an Armada galleon in Tobermory bay. The Campbells, however, took Mingary from the MacIans. It was captured by Alasdair Colkitto MacDonald in 1644 for the Marquis of Montrose, but was recaptured by the Covenanter General David Leslie in 1646, then returned to the Argyll Campbells in 1651. The castle was garrisoned for the government during the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and probably still habitable around 1848. Although the building is fairly complete to the wallhead, it is in a dangerous condition. The castle can be reached from along the shore from Kilchoan Pier.


Aros Castle

Aros Castle

AROS CASTLE

Location - OS map 47 (NM 563 450)

Argyll and Dunbartonshire on the Island of Mull, about 8 miles south-east of Tobermory, on minor road east of the A848, on the west side of the Sound of Mull, just south-east of Aros Mains

Structure

Once one of the most important sites on Mull, Aros Castle consists of a ruined 13th century hall house, the ground floor of which is choked with fallen masonry, and an overgrown courtyard, which contained several buildings. The castle was protected by a steep drop to the beach, and a ditch and wall on the landward side, with a drawbridge.

Brief History

It was built by the MacDougalls, but at the beginning of the 14th century passed to the MacDonald Lord of the Isles. Three charters were issued from the castle by the Lords in 1410, 1469 and 1492. After the forfeiture of the Lord of the Isles in 1493, it was acquired by the MacLeans of Duart. On the orders of James VI in 1608, Lord Ochiltree lured many unruly island chiefs onto his ship, where they were imprisoned and sent to Edinburgh for punishment. The lands later passed to the Campbells, but Aros lost importance to Tobermory in the 18th century. The lands around Aros and castle were put up for sale in 1996.


Duart Castle

Duart Castle

DUART CASTLE

Location - OS map 49 (NM 749 354)

Argyll and Dunbartonshire on the east side of the Island of Mull, about 3 miles south of Craignure, on minor road east of the A849, on Duart Point, at Duart.

Structure

An extremely impressive and daunting fortress, Duart Castle consists of a 13th century curtain wall enclosing a courtyard on a rocky knoll. In 1390 Lachlan Lubanach, 5th chief of the MacLeans built the keep on the outside of the curtain wall, enclosing the existing well. There are later ranges of buildings within the walls. The entrance was through a gatehouse with a portcullis. The keep has very thick walls, and the ground floor was vaulted with the main hall on first floor, which has a great fireplace, and round headed windows with stone seats, although a new window has been cut into one wall. The upper floors are reached by a narrow turnpike stair in the thickness of the wall. A 16th century range of three storeys and a garret has four vaulted cellars, and another three storey block was added in the 17th century.

Brief History

The MacLeans of Duart claim descent from Gillean of the Battle Axe, Lachlan Lubanach married Lady Elizabeth, daughter of the Lord of the Isles, grand daughter of Robert II King of Scots, and was granted the first known charter for Duart dated 1390 as her dowry. While fighting with the MacDonalds, the 6th chief Red Hector was killed at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, slaying and being slain by Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum. During a feud in the clan, Ewan MacLaine of Lochbuie was slain and beheaded in battle - and his ghost, the headless horseman, is said to ride in Glen Mor.

Lachlan Cattanach, 11th chief, became so unhappy with his Campbell wife that he had the poor woman chained to a rock in the Firth of Lorne to be drowned at high tide. However she was rescued and taken to her father, The Campbell Earl of Argyll. As a result MacLean was murdered, in his bed in Edinburgh, by Sir John Campbell of Cawdor. In 1604 MacLean of Duart, along with many other chieftains, was kidnapped and imprisoned while being entertained aboard ship off Aros Castle. In 1674 the castle was acquired by the Campbell Earl of Argyll. The MacLeans remained staunch supporters of the Stewarts throughout the Jacobite Risings. Although garrisoned the castle was not used as a residence, and was abandoned after the Jacobite Rising of 1745 to become derelict and roofless. It was acquired in 1911 by Fitzroy MacLean who restored the castle. It houses an exhibition of clan displays. It featured in the Film 'Entrapment' with Sean Connery.


Moy Castle

Moy Castle

MOY CASTLE

Location - OS map 49 (NM 616 247)

Argyll and Dunbartonshire on the Island of Mull, about 10 miles south-west of Craignure, on minor road and on foot 6 miles south of the A849 at Strathcoil, along the beach, east of Lochbuie House.

Structure

In a beautiful situation on a rocky crag by the seashore, Moy Castle is a ruinous plain 15th century keep of three storeys and a gabled garret, remaining entire to the wallhead. It has a flush crenellated parapet. Open rounds which were once roofed over, crown two of the corners, while a caphouse for the stair and a gabled watch chamber crown the others. The few windows are small. The entrance leads to the vaulted basement. The hall would have been on the first floor, with private chambers above. The tower was harled, and a landing place survives, just beside the castle. Part of the beach appears to have been cleared.

Brief History

The MacLaines owned the property, an unruly branch of the MacLeans. MacLean of Duart, desiring Lochbuie, captured one of the MacLaines, and confined him on the Treshnish Isle of Cairnburgh to prevent him producing an heir. His only female companion was an old ugly woman who, however, he contrived to make pregnant. MacLaine, himself, was murdered, but the woman managed to escape, and produced a son, who eventually regained the property. Iain the Toothless, the chief, and his son and heir, Ewan of the Little Head, fought in 1538 over the latter's marriage settlement: apparently Ewans wife was not satisfied with her house on a fortified island in Loch Squabain (NW6311307), and desired something more luxurious. Ewan was slain in the subsequent battle, his head being hewn off and his horse riding off with the decapitated body. A cairn was said to mark where Ewan finally fell from his horse, but it has been destroyed. His ghost, the headless horseman, is said to ride through Glen Mor when one of the MacLaines is about to die. MacLaine of Lochbuie, having supported the Marquis of Montrose in the 1640's with his kinsmen from Duart, rode with 300 men to join Bonnie Dundee in 1689. The castle was abandoned in 1752, and when Boswell and Johnston visited Lochbuie in 1773 they stayed in a small house nearby, which was in turn replaced by a large Georgian mansion. The MacLaines sold the property in the 20th century, and there is a burial vault, dating from 1864, at the old chapel, as well as a number of 18th century memorials.


THANKS TO OUR HOSTS


Details here are extracted from –
Nigel Tranter – The Fortified House in Scotland – Volume 5 – North and West Scotland
Martin Coventry – The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter – The Castles of Western and Northern Scotland


(2) Related articles: new gates for duart castle | rcahms

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