Dunstaffnage - Sarah Woodbury

Dunstaffnage

Dunstaffnage is a medieval castle located in Western Scotland near Oban above the Firth of Loin. It was built some time before 1240 by the MacDougall clan.

The height upon which Dunstaffnage is located has been occupied since as early as the 7th century, but only became the seat of the MacDougalls in the 13th. The current stone castle was begun by Duncan MacDougall and then enlarged by his son, Ewen, who styled himself “King of the Isles”. He built the three round towers and enlarged the hall that are among the features of the castle still visible today. Also still standing are the walls, including some restored parapet walks, the round towers, the gatehouse, the internal range, and a free-standing chapel that also dates to the 13th century.

In the 14th century, the MacDougall’s made the mistake of backing John Balliol for the throne of Scotland over Robert the Bruce. Around 1308, Robert the Bruce defeated the clan in battle and, after a brief siege, took the castle. It remained in royal hands throughout the subsequent centuries. Clan Campbell were made the castle’s stewards, or ‘captains’ in the 15th and 16th centuries, and controlled the castle through the Civil War and later Jacobite uprising. Restorations were attempted in the 19th and 20th centuries, after which the castle was eventually handed over to the care of the state.


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