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Castle Sween, Argyll and Bute

Location: Grid reference - NR 712 788 (map and directions)

Located in Knapdale on the eastern shore of Loch Sween, Castle Sween dates back to the late 12th century, taking its name from Suibhne, the grandson of Hugh the Splendid O’Neill. The name Suibhne, anglicized, becomes Sween. The descendents of Suibhne became Clan MacSween in the 13th century and governed lands as far north as Loch Awe and as far south as Skipness Castle on Loch Fyne. The MacSweens held this power until the Wars of Scottish Independence, when Robert the Bruce displaced the MacSweens from their lands after becoming King of Scotland.

Castle Sween, Argyll & Bute copyright David Wyatt
Castle Sween © David Wyatt

History of Castle Sween

In 1310 Edward II of England granted John MacSween their ancestral lands of Knapdale, though Castle Sween was already in the hands of Sir John Menteith. In 1376, the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, gained possession of the half of Knapdale which included Castle Sween, and during the 150 years that castle was on MacDonald soil, the owners were the MacNeills and then the MacMillans. Then, in 1490, James IV of Scotland granted Castle Sween to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll, and it stayed in the Campbell clan until the 1640s, when Castle Sween was attacked and burnt by Alasdair MacColla and his Irish Confederate followers during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

The ruined castle sat untouched until the 20th century, when put under protection of the Historic Building and Monuments Directorate and Castle Sween is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

Though one tower collapsed in the 19th century, it has since been repaired by Historic Scotland.

Map and directions

Castle Sween is open to the public year round, though no staff are on site.

View Castle Sween in a larger map

Other castles in Argyll & Bute

Bullet Point Carrick Castle
Bullet Point Dunans Castle
Bullet Point Dunaverty Castle
Bullet Point Dundarave Castle
Bullet Point Dunollie Castle
Bullet Point Dunstaffnage Castle
Bullet Point Duntrune Castle
Bullet Point Gylen Castle
Bullet Point Inveraray Castle
Bullet Point Kilberry Castle
Bullet Point Kilchurn Castle
Bullet Point Kilmory Castle
Bullet Point Castle Lachlan
Bullet Point Rothesay Castle
Bullet Point Saddell Castle
Bullet Point Skipness Castle
Bullet Point Castle Sween
Bullet Point Tarbert Castle
Bullet Point Torrisdale Castle
Bullet Point Castle Toward

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