Argyll & Dunbartonshire: About 5.5 miles south-west of Arinagour on island of Coll, on minor road south of B8070, north of Loch Breachacha, near modern Breachacha Castle.
Private NM 159539 OS: 46 PA78 6TB
View from exterior (privately owned). Ferry to Arinagour on Coll from Oban (CalMac).
On the edge of the bay with a beautiful sandy beach, Breachacha Castle, built in the 14th century, consists of a square tower of four storeys and a gabled garret within a later parapet. It stands at one corner of a courtyard enclosed by a curtain wall, with a round tower at one corner and a range of buildings. A machicolation defends the entrance, and there is an artillery fortification.
The hall, on the first floor of the tower, did not have a fireplace. A turnpike stair is topped by a caphouse. In the 17th century a three-storey block was added beside the round tower. The kitchen lay outside the walls.
‘Castel Brekachah’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of Mull.
Breachacha was given by Robert the Bruce to Angus Og MacDonald of the Isles, but changed hands between the MacDonalds, MacNeils and MacLeans. In 1431 it was seized by the MacLeans of Coll, but they feuded with the MacLeans of Duart, who captured the castle in 1578. Donald MacLean of Coll garrisoned it against the Campbell Earl of Argyll in 1679.
New Breachacha Castle [NM 159540] was built nearby in 1750, (now) an ungainly box-like mansion with lower flanking wings and tiny turrets. The old castle became ruinous. Dr Johnson and Boswell visited in 1773. The property passed to the Stewarts of Glenbuchie in 1856, but the old castle was bought and restored by a descendant of the MacLeans in 1965. The tower has been re-roofed and the timber floors replaced, and the castle has been reoccupied and is in good condition. The newer castle is also occupied although the wings appear to be derelict and the whole edifice is in need of restoration. The new castle was on the market in 2016 for offers over £450,000.
The old castle was said to have had a glasitig (that sounds in many way to resemble a gruagach). The glaistig was described in size ‘like a lump of a lassie’ and had white hair like a tuft of flax. She cleaned and ordered the castle, but also mistreated strangers and lead guests at the castle so that they became lost, although she left people she knew alone.
Nearby is the MacLean burial ground [NM 149524], built by Alexander MacLean, 15th of Coll, around 1815, above Crossapol Bay.