Sitting at the eastern end of the Sound of Mull, Duart Castle is one of Scotland's iconic castles. The castle was built in the 13th century as a fortress guarding the entrance to the Sound of Mull. It has been and still is the seat of the clan Maclean. This wonderful ancient castle is open to the public and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The dungeons are a sight to behold and it does not take much imagination to realise what a terrible place it must have been. After the Spanish Arnada met their fate in the English Chanel, many fled up through the North Sea and tried to get back to Spain by going round the North of Scotland. The Florencia was wrecked near Tobermory bay and the officers were captured and imprisoned in Duarts dungeon. There are guided tours for those who want to learn about the history of the place and even special tours for children to keep them interested. The castle also has a tearoom to rest and recovery after all the walking and learning!
The MacLeans over the years have led some colourful lives from their clan home. Hector, 9th Chief, died at Flodden beside James IV. In the 16th Century, the 11th Chief stranded his wife, the sister of the earl of Argyll on a tidal rock a short distance from the castle because she failed to produce him an heir. Lady Catherine was rescued by a passing fisherman and after MacLean had reported his wife’s death to her brother, he accepted an invitation to visit.... his wife was present but nothing was said of it. Although MacLean left Inveraray castle unharmed, he was murdered in Edinburgh shortly afterwards!
The tidal rock is now known as LADY ROCK. It has a clear Navigation mark and is easily and clearly visible from the ferries travelling from Oban through the Sound of Mull.
Hard to believe but his descendant, Lachlan, 13th Chief, went one better. He murdered 18 of the guests at his widowed mother’s wedding then imprisoned and tortured his new step-father.
The MacLean family declined thereafter. They conspired with Queen Elizabeth and the castle was seized, briefly, by James VI (and I). Then they lost most of their lands to the Campbells but Duart was not lost until support for the first Jacobite rebellion resulted in the rest of the estates being surrendered.
Eventually, Sir Fitzroy MacLean purchased the castle in 1911 and restored it to again perform the task of ancestral home of the Clan, and inhabited by the incumbent Chief.
The nearest village is Craignure, Mull