The Castles of Scotland by Martin Coventry | Goblinshead | A comprehensive guide to 4,100 castles, towers, historic houses, stately homes and family lands
The Castles of Scotland by Martin Coventry | Goblinshead | A comprehensive guide to 4,100 castles, towers, historic houses, stately homes and family lands
The ‘Bible of Scottish Castles’…now available!
The ‘Bible of Scottish Castles’…now available! 

Dunollie Castle

Argyll & Dunbartonshire: About 1 mile north-west of Oban, on minor road and foot north of A85 in Oban, on headland just east of sea, at Dunollie Castle.

 

Ruin or site   NM 852314   OS: 49   PA34 5TT

 

OPEN: Dunollie Museum and Castle: open mid Apr-Oct, daily: Mon-Sat 10.00-16.00, Sun 13.00-16.00.
Web: www.dunollie.org 

Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle (© Martin Coventry)

Standing on a rocky ridge overlooking the sea, Dunollie Castle consists of a 13th-century castle of enclosure and a 15th-century tower of four storeys. Ranges of buildings once stood in the courtyard, but these are mostly ruined and overgrown.

Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle (© Martin Coventry)

The tower had a vaulted basement. There was a lesser hall on the first floor, and a main hall on the second floor, reached by two straight stairs. A turnpike stair led to the upper chambers.

Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle and Kerrera across to Mull (old postcard)

The place is marked as ‘Dounoldy’ on Blaeu’s map of Lorn and is depicted as a tower on a hill.

Painting of Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle (old postcard)

In 698 Dunollie, then a fortress of the kings of Dalriada, was captured and destroyed. The present castle was built by the MacDougalls of Lorn in the 13th century, direct descendants of Somerled, and one of the most powerful families in Scotland at that time.

Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle (© Martin Coventry)

The MacDougalls were bitter enemies of Robert the Bruce. A MacDougall force defeated Bruce at Dalry in 1306, nearly killing him and wrenching a brooch from his cloak. This brooch become known as the Brooch of Lorn and was kept at the castle, then at Gylen Castle on Kerrera [NM 805265]. Bruce returned and ravaged MacDougall lands in 1309 after defeating them at the Pass of Brander, siezing their stronghold at Dunstaffnage.

Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle: shorn of foliage (© Martin Coventry)
Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle (old postcard)

In 1644 the castle was attacked by Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll, and in 1647 the castle was besieged by General David Leslie and an army of Covenanters, and was sacked and burnt. It was attacked again in 1715 when the MacDougalls were fighting for the Stewarts during the Jacobite Rising. John MacDougall of Dunollie was captured and was to be transported, but he was later pardoned. The lands were forfeited, but were restored by 1745.

Dunollie House, near Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle: Dunollie House (© Martin Coventry)
Dunollie House, near Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle: Dunollie House and museum (© Martin Coventry)

The MacDougalls built nearby Dunollie House [NM 853315] in 1746 or earlier, although there was already a house here dating from about 1600, and the old stronghold was abandoned. The newer house was remodelled and extended in 1835, and there is a museum in some of the older parts. The castle is still owned by the MacDougalls, and is being consolidated and repaired.
  There are stories of a phantom piper or Highlander haunting the ruins.

Kerrera from Dunollie, near Dunollie Castle, an impressive ruinous tower on a prominent wooded spot above the later Dunollie House, long held by the MacDougalls, now with a museum, and near the seaside town of Oban in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Dunollie Castle: view of Kerrera from Dunollie (© Martin Coventry)

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