Another Scottish castle which is open to the public all year round, has parking facilities and a visitor centre and gift shop. Dunstaffnage castle is only 3 miles east of Oban in the village of Dunbeg.
Once the capital of Dalriada, (one of the names of the ancient Scots kingdoms), this castle was also built by the MacDougalls in the 13th century. It remains very much as it was then as is the smaller chapel and graveyard built around the same time. Alexander II of Scotland, who had taken a Scottish army as far south as Dover Castle in the early 13th Century, tried to remove the then incumbents as Norwegian puppets but the attempt failed and Alexander died “mysteriously” on Kerrera later that year!
In 1309, Robert the Bruce
declared Dunstaffnage a Royal castle and appointed the
ubiquitous Campbells as hereditary keepers. In the 15th
century, the Earl of Argyll (another Campbell) took over
ownership and in 1502 his cousin became “Captain of
James VI burnt the castle
down to quash a rebellion in1685 but it was painstakingly
restored and utilised as a Government garrison during the
Jacobite Rebellion. Indeed, it was a holding prison for
Bonnie prince Charlie’s sweetheart in 1746 before her
long term imprisonment in London.
The castle is now in the care
of Historic Scotland after being handed over in 1958.
Just a hundred yards from the castle lies the ruins of Dunstaffnage Chapel also looked after by Historic Scotland. It is nestled away in a mature wood where there lots of interesting bits of ruins to find or literally stumble upon.
Both the castle and the
chapel are situated on a small peninsula where there are
breathtaking views across the sea to Lismore and Morvern beyond.