Castles near Glencoe
English Castles Amy Green  

Castles near Glencoe

The area around Glencoe is rich in history and beauty. Looking out from the Inn at Ardgour, or one of the nearby castles near Glencoe, provides a unique perspective over Loch Linnhe to mountains such as Ben Nevis. There are many other amazing castles near Glencoe including Lismore Castle, Dunoon Castle and of course Glencoe castle itself.

MACAULAY CASTLE

A lovely castle with wonderful views across Loch Linnhe to Morvern, Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula. One of the most visited castles near Glencoe.

MacAulay Castle is an imposing Victorian mansion on the south-east coast of Loch Linnhe. The history of this impressive castle can be traced back to 1225 when it was known as Kilmalieu – which means ‘cell or church of St Mary’. It was not until 1807 that the castle was brought to its present form, when it became the seat of Lord Macaulay. It has been lovingly nurtured by members of the family (the present owners) ever since, who continue to install all modern conveniences while still retaining much of its old world charm.

LISMORE CASTLE

Lismore Castle
Lismore Castle

Not far away, just across the water, is an example of an original Blackhouse at the National Trust for Scotland’s Lismore Castle.

Lismore was originally known as ‘Eilean nam Faoileag’. The castle was built by the MacDougalls in 1223 and it became the seat of Clan MacDougall after Godfrey MacDougall of Lorn captured it in 1296. In 1344 the Lordship was granted to Euphemia I, Countess of Ross and during her reign a second castle was built beside the first one. This site became known as ‘Upper Lismore’. In 1715 the chief’s seat was moved from Upper Lismore to the new site and the old castle was allowed to fall into ruin.

In 1844 a fire ravaged Lismore Castle and it had to be largely rebuilt. The present castle is a mixture of 14th century construction work with later 19th century additions.

From the battlements you can enjoy wonderful views over Loch Linnhe and the mountains of Morvern and Mull.

DUNOON CASTLE

A 15th century castle perched high above the town of Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula. This is one of my favourite Castles near Glencoe.

Dunoon Castle is a small tower house which stands above the town of Dunoon, on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll. The exact date of construction is unknown but it is believed that this tower house was built in the 15th century by Clan MacDougall.

The castle had a chequered career and has changed hands many times since it was originally constructed. It was captured by the Campbells in 1646, but later returned to the MacDougalls. In 1756 it was besieged again, this time by government troops who were trying to suppress the Jacobite Risings. The attack was repulsed and for a while it became a garrison until new barracks were built nearby in 1775.

The castle eventually passed into the hands of the Dukes of Argyll and during this time parts of Dunoon Castle were used as a prison. In 1909 it passed into the ownership of the Town Council of Dunoon.

Dunoon Castle now houses an excellent exhibition on the history of Cowal, and has become a popular venue for weddings.

LOVAT CASTLE

Lovat castle stands guard over Loch Ness, surrounded by ancient woodland (known as The Great Wood of Caledon) said to be the original Caledonian Forest.

Lovat Castle is located on the northern side of Loch Ness, about 10 miles south east of Inverness. The castle was built in stages between the 13th and 16th centuries and has been altered over the years to reflect changing architectural styles.

The first records of a fort or residence at this site date back to 1250, when Simon Fraser (a descendant of the famous Norman family) was granted the lands by King Alexander II. The Frasers came close to being destroyed in 1464 when Lord Lovat’s son tried to take over Dunamaggan Castle in Southern Ireland – he was executed for treason against the Crown.

Lovat Castle was besieged by the MacKenzies of Seaforth in 1665, but they were unsuccessful in taking it. In 1715 Lovat became a rallying point for the Jacobite uprising and once again stood siege – this time from government troops who held out until reinforcements arrived.

In 1847 another fire damaged parts of the castle when Lovat was the home of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, Chief of Clan Fraser. His grandson Simon (the first and last Baron Lovat) added a Gothic tower and entrance on the north side and improved other sections too.

Now lovat castle is maintained by Historic Scotland as a scheduled ancient monument with many parts open to visitors including the medieval tower house, garderobes and dungeons. Visitors can also enjoy the views from the battlements which look over Loch Ness.

GLENCOE CASTLE

Castles near Glencoe

A history of strife – a visit to Glencoe Castle will reveal tales of battles, sieges and blood feuds.

Glencoe Castle stands on a hill, looking over Loch Leven and Ben Vorlich. The castle was built in the 16th century by Duncan Stewart, the illegitimate son of Colin Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of

Glencoe and a famous beauty called Catherine Campbell. Duncan Stewart is said to have died in mysterious circumstances – he was found dead in his bed covered with blood which led to rumours that he had been murdered.

The castle was later owned by a series of Stewart clansmen and it eventually became the home of MacDonalds who occupied Glencoe for more than 200 years. In 1692 the Massacre of Glencoe occurred, when 38 clan chiefs were killed in a treacherous cowardly attack on unarmed MacDonald men. The massacre occurred after failing to comply with the new act of proscription which required all highland chiefs to take an oath of allegiance to William and Mary.

The government troops led by Captain Robert Campbell were billeted in Glencoe under false pretences. A morning blizzard meant that many MacDonalds believed their guests were being delayed, giving them time to get ready for the coming conflict.

However, Campbell and his men attacked their hosts in the middle of the night – around 38 MacDonalds were killed but some managed to escape over the mountains. After this many MacDonalds left Glencoe to found settlements in Canada and Australia causing their numbers to dwindle alarmingly. The castle was then owned by Captain Charles Stewart who gained notoriety for his part in the mutiny on the Bounty. Glencoe was later restored and turned into a hotel.

If you enjoyed this blog article on Castles near Glencoe then you might also like to read about these castles near Aberdeen.

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