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Dunstaffnage Castle

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Dunstaffnage Castle is a MacDougall and later Cambell castle situated 3 miles north of Oban, by the main A85 road that runs between Glasgow and Oban.

The Castle is open every day in summer, it is closed Thur and Fri in winter. There is a small entrance fee. Postcode: PA37 1PZ

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The image top is of the path from the car park out to Dunstaffnage Castle, under a half mile. The Visitor Centre is situated next to the Castle on the right, and Chapel ruins about 100 yards to the left in woodland.

The image second top is of the winding stairs leading up into the Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle is situated on a peninsular at the entrance to Loch Etive, with water on three sides.

Dunstaffnage Castle History

600s - Norway's Kings ruled the Northern and Western Isles, and some of the West Coast of Scotland. They appointed local families / Clans to help rule their land.

1200s - the building of Dunstaffnage Castle begins for the Lord of Lorn, Duncan MacDougall, grandson of Somerled.

Somerled was one of the last Norse warlords to control the Western Isles and take part in battles on the Scottish mainland.

Dunstaffnage Chapel is thought to have been built around this time.

1240s - Duncan's son and heir Ewen portraid himself as King of the Isles.

1293 - Ewen's son Alexander was made the first sherriff of Argyll after helping King Alexander III reduce Norse influence in Argyll.

1200s late - the MacDougall's supported John Balliol and John Comyn against Robert the Bruce in the First War of Scottish Independence.

1308 - Robert the Bruce defeated the MacDougall's at the Battle of the Pass of Brander, then took control of Dunstaffnage Castle after a short seige. The Castle was then run as a Royal Castle with families in charge that were loyal to the Kings.

1463 - keeper of the Castle, John Stewart of Lorn, was stabbed while walking to Dunstaffnage Chapel to marry his second wife. The assault was by men of Alan MacDougall, who claimed they were the rightfull owners of the Castle. John Stewart is supposed to have married on his death bed in the Castle.

His death led to the MacDougall's taking control of the Castle at that time.

1468 - Alan MacDougall was killed at the Battle of Stalc, a battle between the MacDougall's and Stewart's. John Stewart's son, Dugald Stewart, was credited with killing Alan MacDougall.

1470 - King James III forced the MacDougall's out of Dunstaffnage Castle so his loyal supporter Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll, could take control.

The Cambell's were a Clan that remained loyal to most Royals. Their Castles were used by Government troops to prevent uprisings in the Western Isles and Highlands by Clans such as the MacDonalds.

1685 - Dunstaffnage was badly dammaged by Royalist Troops with fire after the Protestant Earl of Argyll Cambell led an uprising against the Catholic James VII/II. The Earl was executed on the Maiden Guillotine in Edinburgh after the uprising failed.

1715 and 1745 - the Cambell's allowed Dunstaffnage and their many other Castles to house government troops during the Jacobite risings. Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland, was briefly imprisoned here before being taken to the Tower of London.

1725 - the Cambells added new buildings to the Castle.

1810 - an accidental fire severly dammaged the gatehouse, leading to the Cambells moving to Dunstaffnage House just over 1 mile southeast.

1888 - the last Tenants left the Castle.

1903 - restoration work began for the Duke of Argyll.

1912 - a court case ruled Angus Campbell, 20th hereditary Captain, had right of residence, even though the Duke of Argyll owned the castle.

1914 - the outbreak of World War I ended the restoration before it was completed.

1958 - the 21st Captain and Duke of Argyll agreed to hand the castle over to Historic Scotland so it could be used as a visitor attraction.

The Castle has a Ghost namrd Ell-maid of Dunstaffnage, said to be connected to the Cambells. If she is smiling, everything is ok, if she is crying, strange thngs are about to happen.

Entry fees pay for the upkeep of the Castle and repairs. Stonework and Mortar on Scottish castles need regular repairs due to the wet climate.

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Dunstaffnage Castle Photos