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Castles in Argyll and Bute
The area of Argyll and Bute in west Scotland can claim over 3,000
miles of coastline (more than the whole of France) along which
some of the most stunning castles in Scotland are located. In fact,
magnificent castles are sprinkled throughout Argyll, beginning withKilmory Castle, just four miles outside the regionís capital city of
Lochgilphead. Also known as Kilmory House, this 19th century
house is a private home with gardens that are open to the public.
On the eastern shore of Loch Sween in Argyll, 18 miles from
Kilmory Castle, lies Castle Sween in Knapdale. Castle Sween is
thought to be one of the oldest castles in Scotland, as it was built
in the late twelfth century, and passed through the hands of Clan
MacSween to MacNeils, and finally to the Campbells and was burnt
in the 1640s by the Irish before eventually falling into the protection
of Historic Scotland.
15 miles north of Castle Sween is Duntrune castle, originally built
by Clan MacDougall in the 12th century and currently owned by the
clan chief of the Clan Malcolm, whose family bought Duntrune in
Gylen Castle sits on the southern part of the island Kerrera 40
miles north of Duntrune Castle in Argyll, and was also built by
Clan MacDougall, this time in 1582, though it was only occupied
for a short time and after a major restoration funded by worldwide
members of Clan MacDougall, Gylen is now in the hands of Historic
Scotland. 5 miles from Gylen Castle perched atop a hill outside the
city of Oban is Dunollie Castle, a small ruin located most likely built
by Ewan MacDougall in the 13th century.
Kilchurn Castle © Peter Gordon
5 miles further northeast along the coast brings you to Dunstaffnage Castle in Connel. This partially ruined castle is currently maintained
by Historic Scotland and dates back to the 13th century as is one of
Scotlandís oldest stone castles, built by the MacDougalls but held since the 15th century by Clan Campbell.
Heading 15 miles overland to the northern tip of Loch Awe, 15th
century Kilchurn Castle sits splendidly on what was once a tiny
island in the Loch, making the castle most likely accessible only
by boat or an underground tunnel. Today this former home of Clan
Campbell and currently in the care of Historic Scotland can be
reached by boat or on foot from Dalmally (summers only).
South to Inveraray and the seat of the Chief of Clan Campbell,
Inveraray Castle. Though traditionally the private home to the
Duke of Argyll, the pure beauty of the castle attracts many tourists
and the castle is open to the public on specific dates throughout
the year. Nearby Dundarave Castle was built in the 16th century
as home of the MacNaughton Clan on the shores of Loch Fyne.
A trip through Drimsynie into the heart of Argyll Forest Park reveals
Carrick Castle, which sits along Loch Goil, feeding in to Loch Long.
This 15th-century structure is believed to have been built in the 12th
century, then passed on to the Clan Campbell, Earls of Argyll, and
was their symbol and source of their power in South Argyll. Mary
Queen of Scots was a visitor in 1563, and the castle subsequently lay
a ruin until restoration began in 2007. Through Argyll Forest Park
to the tip of the Cowal Peninsula is Castle Toward, which has been
converted into an outdoor education facility. The castle itself dates
from the 15th century and is now ruined. The ruins lie less than half a
mile from the current Castle Toward built in 1820 as a family country
Back up to Loch Fyne and heading south, Castle Lachlan comes
into view. A castle built at the start of the 14th century and currently
owned and occupied by the head of the MacLachlan clan, the
castle also contains self-catering accommodation for visitors. Just
inland sits Dunans Castle, originally home to the Fletcher Clan
and built before 1590, later converted into a castle in 1860, and
subsequently destroyed by fire in 2001. Nearby Dunans Bridge
is an A-listed structure designed in 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, and voted one of Scotlandís ten best bridges.
Saddell Castle © Steve Partridge
Heading 15 miles south from Kilmory Castle down the western
side of Loch Fyne along the Kintyre Peninsula is the ruined Tarbert Castle, located on the southern shore of Tarbert Bay. Tarbert Castle
was built as a fortified structure in the 13th century, towers were
added by Robert the Bruce in the 1320s, a further tower was built in
1494 in advance of a visit by James IV.
Seven miles further south is Dunaverty Castle which was once a
fort belonging to the Clan Donald but nothing more than a ruin now,
known as Blood Rock. 25 miles further down the coast across the
Kilbrannan Sound from the isle of Arran is Skipness Castle built in
the early 1200s by Clan MacSween.
The coastal drive continues to the village of Torrisdale, just a few
minutesí drive outside of which sits Torrisdale Castle, a picturesque
mansion house built in 1815 overlooking Torrisdale Bay. Home to
the Macalister Hall family who have owned the castle since 1890, the
castle is open to the public.
Saddell Castle is located near Torrisdole on the shore of the
Kilbrannan Sound. The 16th century castle was built by the
Bishop of Argyll between 1508Ė1512, out of stones from the
ruined Saddell Abbey and is now owned by the Landmark Trust.
Across to the western side of the Kintyre Peninsula is Kilberry Castle in the village of Kilberry, built in 1497, destroyed in 1513, and
rebuilt as a castellated mansion house in 1844 by a branch of Clan
The Isle of Bute is home to several castles but the best known is Rothesay Castle, which is located in the centre of Rothesay itself.
Argyll & Bute castles