Castles in Argyll and Bute
Achallader Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Achaladair) is a ruined 16th-century tower house under the shadow of Beinn Achaladair.
Achallader Castle was built near the northern end of Loch Tulla, close to the Bridge of Orchy, sometime in the 16th century and added to over the decades by various Clans. It is accepted that the Fletcher’s, known then as Mac an Fhleister “were the first to ‘raise smoke and boil water’ on the Braes of Glenorchy” although the MacGregors were also a ruling Clan of the area in the 15th century.
Achamore House is a mansion on the Isle of Gigha, Scotland. It was built in 1884 for Lt-Col William James Scarlett, and the extensive gardens were laid out by Sir James Horlick from 1944.
Ardencaple Castle, also known as Ardincaple Castle, and sometimes referred to as Ardencaple Castle Light, is a listed building, situated about 1 statute mile (1.6 km) from Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Today, all that remains of the castle is a tower, perched on the edge of a plateau, looking down on a flat tract of land between it and the shore of the Firth of Clyde. The original castle was thought to have been built sometime in the 12th century, and part of the remains of the original castle were said to have existed in the 19th century. Today, that sole remaining tower is used as a navigational aid for shipping on the Firth of Clyde.
A fortified dwelling or castle previously existed upon the site, however it is not known when it was constructed. Upon the formation of Clan MacAlister, becoming independent from Clan MacDonald in 1493, the chief, Iain Dubh (Anglicisation: Black John), created the seat of the clan at Ardpatrick.
The present house was built in 1769 for Angus MacAlester, 11th of Loup, by John Menelaws and Thomas Menelaws, from Greenock. The estate of Ardpatrick, including the cottage of Auchachoan was sold by Alexander MacAllister of Loup in 1796 to Walter Campbell of Skipness, who bought it for his son Colin Campbell. Ardpatrick was the seat of the Campbells of Ardpatrick until 1920. It was then the property of the Stewart family until 1947. The estate covers 1,000 acres (400 ha), and was offered for sale in 2004.
The ruins of Aros Castle stand on an easily defensible headland on the north side of the mouth of the Aros River, about 1¼ miles north of Salen. It was built as one of a series of castles intended to control both sides of the Sound of Mull in the 1200s: the best known of these was – and remains – Duart Castle.
The castle seems to have comprised a keep, possibly surrounded by a curtain wall that ran around the top of the 50ft high rocky headland on which the castle stands.
Today it takes an act of imagination to see much more than some severely wrecked remains of the keep itself, plus a few pieces of standing stone that might once have been small outbuildings on the landward side.
Barcaldine Castle is a 17th-century tower house castle located at Barcaldine 9 miles north of Oban, Scotland. The castle was built by Sir Duncan Campbell, of Glenorchy, between 1601 and 1609. The castle fell into disrepair in the later 19th century, when Barcaldine House became the principal residence of the family. It was restored between 1897-1911 and now operates as the Barcaldine Castle bed & breakfast hotel.
Calgary Castle, also known as Calgary House, is a 19th-century castellated Gothic mansion at Calgary on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. The mansion faces Calgary Bay on the west coast of the island, around 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from Tobermory. It is a category B listed building.
The house was built by Captain Alan MacAskill (1765–1828), who bought the land in 1817 and completed the house by 1823. Around 1870 the house was acquired by John Munro Mackenzie, and was subsequently extended to the east, away from the coast. Calgary Castle was later owned by Colonel Eric and Elizabeth Mackenzie from 1948 until the 1970s, and they planted over 150 species of rhododendron, azaleas and exotic plants, and created the woodland garden which still stands.
Carnasserie Castle (also spelled Carnassarie) is a ruined 16th-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.
Carrick Castle is a 15th-century tower house on the west shore of Loch Goil, Argyll, Scotland. It is located between Cuilmuich and Carrick, 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Lochgoilhead.
The Castle consists of two floors above the central great hall. The building is oblong, 66 feet long by 38 feet wide, with walls seven feet thick. It stands 64 feet high. There is a curiosity – a small chimney is built into a window recess. There is an appendage of a smaller 17th Century structure to the original rectangular tower house.
Claig Castle (Isle of Jura)
Claig Castle was a stronghold of the Clan Donald or MacDonald in the south of Scotland.
The castle was once a massive fort described as a sea fortress, which allowed the Macdonald Lord of the Isles to dominate and control the sea traffic north and south through the Hebrides for more than four centuries.
The castle remained a stronghold of the MacDonalds until they were subdued in the 17th century by the Clan Campbell.
Craignish Castle, originally a stronghold of the Campbells of Craignish is the parish of Craignish.
Duart Castle (Mull)
Duart Castle or Caisteal Dhubhairt in Scottish Gaelic is a castle on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, within the council area of Argyll and Bute. The castle dates back to the 13th century and is the seat of Clan MacLean.
Dunans Castle, home to the Fletcher Clan is a historic structure located in Glendaruel, on the Cowal peninsula, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. A property at Dounens was shown on maps in 1590; Dunans House was elaborated into its present mock castle form in 1864. Once part of a much larger estate the property presently includes 16 acres (65,000 m2) of ground and in 2001, was ruined by fire.
The castle was demolished in the late seventeenth century but the natural rock upon which it stood was always the primary defensive element of the structure and has lost nothing of its dramatic setting over the centuries.
A castle existed here in some form as early as the eight century AD for the Annuls of Ulster note that in AD 712 Sealbach, King of Dalriada besieged the site. Thereafter it became the principal stronghold of Gabran and his heirs. It is not known what form this castle took but over the subsequent centuries it evolved into a stone curtain wall that is presumed to have enclosed the summit of the headland. The land access was achieved from the north via a drawbridge.
Dunderave Castle was built in 1598 as the seat of the MacNaughton clan chief, replacing an older castle in nearby Glen Shira known as Dubh Loch Castle.
Dunlop Castle, seat of the clan MacDougall, Lords of Lorn, is situated approximately a mile to the north of Oban. It sits overlooking the small strait between the mainland and the island of Kerrera, which is also owned by the MacDougall estate. The small grassy island is Maiden Island which in itself has an interesting legend attributed.
There have been fortifications on the Dunollie site since the 7th century, originally by the kings of Dalriada.
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Dunstaffnage Castle is a partially ruined castle in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland. It lies 3 miles (4.8 km) N.N.E. of Oban, situated on a platform of conglomerate rock on a promontory at the south-west of the entrance to Loch Etive, and is surrounded on three sides by the sea.
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The first castle at Duntrune is thought to have been built by the MacDougall family in the 12th century, and was presumably added to in the 13th century. Standing on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Crinan, parts of the present Duntrune Castle dates back to the 13th century, when a massive enceinte wall with rounded corners was built around the edge of the rock on which it stands.
Now a crumbling ruin this Castle was once an impregnable naval fortress of the ‘Lords of the Isles,’ the chiefs of Clan MacDonald. Constructed on top of a fort or dune, the vestiges of a 15th century keep and a 13th century tower survive although much of what remains most likely dates from the 16th century. After being forfeited to the crown in 1493, the castle was the object of much wrangling between the MacDonalds and rival clans until the Campbell’s of Cawdor eventually took up residence. Upon relocating to Islay House, the castle’s final occupant Sir Hugh Campbell had it demolished in 1677.
Finlaggan is a historic site on Eilean Mòr in Loch Finlaggan. Loch, island, and Finlaggan Castle lie around two km to the northwest of Ballygrant on Islay. Finlaggan was the seat of the Lords of the Isles and of Clan Donald.
Fincharn Castle is in ruins with a few sections of walls still standing. It stands on a rocky promontory on the very edge of the southwest shore of Loch Awe. The name, Fincharn is derived from the Celtic Fiannacharn, the “Fingalians’ Mound”, which is the name given to an unusually large burial cairn located on the nearby Fincharn Farm. The remains of the castle are less than a mile away from the community of Ford.
Glengorm Castle (Mull)
Glengorm Castle (also known as Castle Sorn), is a 19th-century country house on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
The Mishnish estate was purchased in 1856 by James Forsyth of Quinish. He cleared the existing township of Sorne to make way for the new house, which was completed in 1860. The house was designed by Kinnear and Peddie in a Scots Baronial style. It is now operated as a guest house and wedding venue, with a cafe and shop in the former stables.
Forsyth was a hated figure on the island. He cleared the crofters from the area by bullying and concerted pressure. One old woman had a title to her land which Forsyth took from her and throwing it into the fire told her she had a week to leave. Upon his return he was meet by the woman and the local minister who had kept the original. Forsyth incadescent with rage decided to fence her in so that she could not leave to get provisions. However the woman managed very well it was said that men climb the cliffs near by to bring provisions. When Forsyth was building the castle he was told by an old woman he would never live in the place. He died just before it was opened. Forsyth when building asked an elderly woman what he should call his splendid new house, she said call it Glengorm, he did not understand that it means blue smoke a comment on the peat smoke that would no longer be seen from the houses of the people he had made homeless. Many of the folk moved into Tobermory to find work.
Built in the early 1580s, this was another stronghold of the MacDougall clan. Known as the “Castle of Fountains” Gylen was strategically placed to control and survey the southern approaches to Oban by the narrow Sound of Kerrera. The island’s other claim to fame is that Alexander II died in Horseshoe Bay in 1249 whilst attempting to recover the Hebrides from King Haakon IV of Norway. The castle was besieged and burned by Covenanter General Leslie’s in 1647 and was never re-occupied thereafter. The attackers could not breach the castle’s defences but there was no accessible water supply and the castle eventually fell.
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Innes Chonnel Castle
Innis Chonnell, Loch Awe, Argyll. Small island in Loch Awe with castle ruins – was one of the earliest Campbell strongholds, certainly from as early as 1308 until the present day.
The island is fourteen miles east of Kilmartin, Argyll.
Inveraray Castle(Gaelic Caisteal Inbhir Aora), a magnificent Scottish castle on the shore of Loch Fyne, Scotland’s longest sea loch. It is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell.
Kames Castle (Isle of Bute)
Kames Castle is a castellated mansion house on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. On the shore of Kames Bay near Port Bannatyne, the castle consists of a 14th-century tower, with a house built on it in the 18th Century.
Kilberry Castle is a mansion house near the village of Kilberry, Knapdale, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Built in 1497 as a castle, it was destroyed in 1513 and the remains were incorporated into a castellated mansion house built in 1844. Further additions occurred in 1871.
Originally built in 1497 as a L-plan castle by a cadet branch of Clan Campbell. The castle was destroyed by an English pirate in 1513. The remains of the old castle were incorporated into the mansion built in 1844 by John Campbell, with the mansion being enlarged in 1871.
Kilchurn Castle is a ruined 15th and 17th century structure on a rocky peninsula at the northeastern end of Loch Awe. It was the ancestral home of the Campbells of Glen Orchy, who later became the Earls of Breadalbane also known as the Breadalbane family branch, of the Clan Campbell.
Kilmahew castle was built upon the lands granted to the Napiers by Malcolm, the Earl of Lennox around the year 1290. The castle itself was built sometime in the 16th century by the Napier family, who owned it for 18 generations. The Napiers who owned Kilmahew are notable for being the progenitors of most of the Napiers in North America.
Kilmartin Castle, a small ‘Z-plan’ tower house, dating from about 1580, stands above the village. Kilmartin was a property of the Campbells, many of whom are buried in the churchyard. John Carswell, Rector of Kilmartin and later titular Bishop of the Isles, lived here before moving to his new residence at Carnasserie Castle. The castle comprises an oblong, three-storey main block, with round towers to the north-east and south-west corners, as well as a small stair tower in the west front. Formerly ruined, it has been restored as a private house in recent years. Shot holes and iron yetts over the windows have been retained.
Kilmory Castle, also known as Kilmory House, is a large 19th-century house located just to the south of Lochgilphead. Kilmory Castle is the headquarters of Argyll & Bute Council.
In 1575 the estate was owned by Donald Campbell of Kilmory, and remained in the Campbell family for over 250 years.
Ten minutes away from the ruin of the original Castle Lachlan, this is a beautiful Scottish baronial house set in an estate of 1500 acres. The house, which overlooks the Loch, is the home of Euan and Lisa Maclachlan and their family.
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Located on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne near Newton, Castle Lachlan was originally constructed in the 13th century but the tower or keep that stands today dates from the 15th. Its design was unique in Scotland, with the large keep containing two large tenements connected along the north side with a shared open court.The castle had four stories plus cellars and battlements and was protected by fortifications. A Great Hall on second floor was used as a council room and gathering hall on special occasions. Rain water was collected in a well for communal use. The MacLachlans were forced to flee the castle in aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion. It was bombarded from the sea in 1746, after the Battle of Culloden, on the orders of Duke of Cumberland. Their lands were eventually restored to them with the assistance of their government allies which enabled Donald MacLachlan to commission the construction of the new MacLachlan or Lachlan Castle and its grounds.
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Minard Castle is a 19th-century casellated mansion on the north-western shore of Loch Fyne, Scotland.
The current structure is the enlargement of an older house carried out around 1848 by the architect John Thomas Rochead.
Mount Stewart (Bute)
Mount Stuart House on the east coast of the Isle of Bute, Scotland, is a Gothic Revival country house and the ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute.
Moy Castle (Mull)
Moy Castle — the Historic Home of the Clan MacLaine. The following is edited from The History of the Clan Maclean and from Argyll.
Rothesay Castle (Bute)
Rothesay Castle is a ruined castle in Rothesay, the principal town on the Isle of Bute.
The Castle dates back to the early 13th century and is remarkably well preserved in spite of its age. Built by the Stewart family to defend against invading Norwegian fleets, Rothesay’s immense circular curtain wall makes it unique in Scotland.
Saddell Castle was built in 1508 and then fell into the hands of the Campbells who held it for nearly 400 years.
Skipness Castle stands on the east side of the Kintyre Peninsula near the village of Skipness, just a short drive from Tarbert, Loch Fyne in the Heart of Argyll. The castle is a favourite among historical enthusiasts and families alike as you can explore inside the building and climb up a narrow staircase to the roof, where you’ll be treated to wonderful views across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran.
Castle Stalker (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal an Stalcaire) i is a four-storey tower house or keep picturesquely set on a tidal islet on Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe.
Castle Stalker derives its name from the gaelic stalcaire which translates as falconer or hunter.
The castle has a long and turbulent history. Originally built as a fortalice (a small defendable fort) by the MacDougalls, (See Dunollie & Dunstaffnage pages) in the early 14th century around 1320 when they were Lords of Lorn.
In 1388 the Stewarts became the Lords of Lorn and were granted the land which included the castle. Around about 1446 Sir John Stewart built the castle much as it is in its present form.
For the next 200 years, amid much drama, murders revenge murders, illegitimate children and mysteries the castle remained a Stewart stronghold.
Castle Sween is located on the eastern shore of Loch Sween, in Knapdale, this castle guards the mouth of the loch. Thought to be one of the earliest stone castles built in Scotland. Dating from the late 12th century, it was built by Suibhne, later anglicised as Sween, the grandson of Hugh the splendid O’Neill. In the 13th century Clan MacSween presided over a territory that extended as far north as Loch Awe and as far south as Loch Fyne. But by the time of the Wars of Independence, the MacSween’s had become adversaries of Robert the Bruce who lay siege to the castle. Their fortunes floundered soon afterwards and over the subsequent centuries the castle was passed from rival clan to clan. The castle also featured in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms when it was attacked burnt by Alasdair MacColla and is Irish confederate forces in 1647.
Tarbert Castle is situated on the southern shore of East Loch Tarbert, at Tarbert, Argyll, Scotland, at the north end of Kintyre. Tarbert Castle was a strategic royal stronghold during the Middle Ages and one of three castles at Tarbert. The castle overlooks the harbour and although pre 14th century in construction, the tower dates back to 1494 and the visit of James IV to the Western Highlands.
Torosay Castle is a large house situated 1½ miles south of Craignure on the Isle of Mull, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides.
It was designed by architect David Bryce for John Campbell of Possil (see Carter-Campbell of Possil) in the Scottish Baronial style, and completed in 1858. Torosay is surrounded by 12 acres (4.9 ha) of spectacular gardens including formal terraces laid out at the turn of the 20th century and attributed to Sir Robert Lorimer. The castle and gardens used to be open to the public, being linked to the Craignure ferry terminal by the Isle of Mull Railway.
Torrisdale Castle is a historic mansion residence, overlooking Torrisdale Bay, Argyll, south of Carradale, Kintyre, Scotland. The castle is situated at the edge of the village of Torrisdale.
The mansion was built in 1815, by General Keith Macalister, of Loup and Torrisdale in 1815. Designed by architect James Gillespie Graham, the mansion is castellated and consists of two storeys and a basement. Further extensions occurred in the 1900s.
The estate is home to the Macalister Hall family who have owned Torrisdale since 1890. A number of lodges, cottages, houses and even apartments within the mansion are available as tourist accommodation. An organic Tannery & Craft Shop also run on the estate.
Castle Toward is the former seat of Clan Lamont, one of the most powerful families in the history of west Scotland.
This crumbling ruin situated to the south east of the grounds of Castle Toward, a 19th century castellated mansion which was also built by the Lamonts. The old castle dates from the 15th century and served as the seat of Clan Lamont until it was destroyed by their rivals the Campbells in 1646. Sir John Lamont entertained the tragic Mary Queen of Scots here in 1563.