Argyll & Dunbartonshire: About 2 miles north of Benderloch, on minor road west of A828 at Ferlochan, 3.5 miles west of Barcaldine village, at Barcaldine Castle.
Private NM 907405 OS: 49 PA37 1SA
OPEN: Luxury guest house.
Tel: 01631 720598 Web: www.barcaldinecastle.co.uk
Also known as the Black Castle of Barcaldine, Barcaldine is a fine 16th-century L-plan tower house of three storeys and an attic. The two blocks of the L are slightly offset. A round stair-tower
stands in the re-entrant angle and four large bartizans crown the corners of the tower. The walls are harled and washed, and pierced by many gunloops and shot-holes.
The entrance, at the foot of the stair-tower, still has a heavy iron yett behind an oak door. The basement is vaulted, and contains a kitchen and cellars. A small straight stair climbs from the wine-cellar to the hall on the first floor.
‘Barkalden’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of Lorn.
The Campbells acquired the lands in 1597, and the castle was built by Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy, who also had castles at Kilchurn, Achallader, Loch Dochart, Finlarig, Balloch – now called Taymouth – and Edinample. The castle was garrisoned in 1645 and in 1687. In the 1680s the Campbells of Glenorchy invaded Caithness in an attempt to seize the Sinclair Earldom (they had acquired the considerable debts of the last Earl), and although they ultimately failed, were compensated by being created Earls of Breadalbane, and knowing that the number of Sinclairs in the world had been greatly reduced.
The Barcaldine family were involved in the murder of Sir Colin Campbell of Glenure, the Red Fox, in 1752 which features in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. John Campbell of
Barcaldine, half brother of the Red Fox, tried James Stewart for the murder and had him hanged, although 12 of the 15 members of the jury were Campbells.
The family were made baronets in 1841, but by the following year the castle had become ruinous, and the property was sold. Barcaldine House [NM 965414] dates from 1724, and is a large rambling and haphazard mansion of several periods and styles, extended down the years, and was built some distance away (hence the village of Barcaldine is not near the castle). The house was used as a hotel, but at the time of writing (and for some years) is closed.
Barcaldine Castle was bought back by the Campbells in 1896, and restored.
The sister of the then owner, Harriet, died in the castle. Her apparition a ‘Blue Lady’ has reputedly been seen, and it is said that on windy nights a piano can sometimes be heard.
The castle is still occupied by the Campbells of Barcaldine.
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