Spikiness Castle was built by the local lords, the MacSweens, and later passed to the Stewarts of Menteith.
It stood on the border between territories controlled by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles and the Stewart kings of Scotland. The MacDonalds held the castle from 1325 until 1493.
Skipness was the administrative centre of this part of Argyll. Whoever held the castle, held power and control over the lives of those living here.
When the castle was enlarged the original chapel became part of the new walls and was dedicated to St Brendan. It was used by the lord’s family and household and also by the community which grew up around the castle.
In the 1300s the castle was altered and extended. A massive stone enclosing wall was buillt and new accommodation created.
The Campbells modernise Skipness
When Skipness passed into the hands of the Earls of Argyll in 1503, they received a building which had changed little in 200 years. The original castle was a large hall house, with storage on the ground floor and the lords great hall and chambers above. It was enclosed by defences made of earth and timber.
To bring the castle up to a 16th century standard of living, the Campbells constructed this tower. Rising out of one corner of the older buildings, this floor and the two above it were a new addition. The east range of the castle was demolished later in the 16th century while the old hall house survived until the 18th century.
The Lord’s tower becomes workers’ housing
In most tower houses the accommodation became less grand the higher up the building, with fireplaces and windows getting smaller for the lower members of the household. In the case of Skipness the difference is not that marked since all the floors, apart from the attic, offer fine accommodation. This was because Skipness still had other buildings to house lower members of the household, taking pressure off the upper floors of the tower. In the 18th century the Campbells of Skipness built a new house nearby and the tower became lodgings for the estate workers. After the fire which destroyed the other buildings the tower was repaired and continued to be lived in until well into the 19th century.
Clan Connections with Skipness Castle
Photos from our visit to Skipness Castle