13th century

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NM 748 353
Isle of Mull
10min from Ferry port
3m from Craignure
e of A849


privately owned
Apr Su-Thu
transport available


Duart site
Undiscovered Scotland
Clan Maclean


Duart Castle

When you take the ferry from Oban to the Isle of Mull, you'll sweep past this impressive castle on the coast. We intended to see it on the way back to the ferry, but we (as usual) got delayed and only had a few minutes to look around.

the castle from the ferry

13th century fortress

The castle is built on a large rocky outcropping on the coast, and dates from the 13th century (at least parts of the castle). A very tall and thick curtain wall is 13th century, and encloses a large courtyard and slightly later castle. The main tower -- with ridiculously thick walls -- was built on the outside of the curtain wall in the 14th century, enlarging the castle. THe tower measures about 20m x 14m with walls that are 3.7 to 4m thick (!). It was entered from the courtyard, thorugh a chamber in the wall that was punched throught he original curtain wall of the courtyard.

Entrance is through a large gatehouse (with a portcullis). The main keep is a [xx]th century three-story tower house with additional ranges added inside the walls. The walls are very thick. As we've come to expect, the basements are vaulted, the hall is on the first floor, and private rooms above. The upper floors are reached via a spiral stair in the thickness of the wall. A number of rooms and passages have been filled in over the yeras, as the castle was enlarged and repaired.

looking up at the rounded curtain wall and later range

A later range of buildings was added in the 16th century by Hector Mor, comprising a three story addition with vaulted cellars. Another three-story addition was built int he 17th century. The wall walk and attic rooms date from the restoration in 1911.


There was a 13th century fortress here, build by the MacDougalls, which was also probably built on the remains of even earlier fortresses, as the castle commands a strong position over the passage between the mainland and the isalnd.

The first stone castle here was built on the outside of the curtain wall by Lachlan Lubanach, the 5th chief of the Macleans.. He married Elizabeth, daughter of the Lord of the Isles and granddaughter of Robert II and it was she who brought the charter for the castle at Duart to the marriage as a dowry. The charter was dated 1390. The lands were made a barony by James IV in 1496, with Duart castle the seat of the family.

a torch on the seaward tower, used for signalling the other castles

Hector Mor (d. 1568) build the range against the SW wall and his his grandson added the NE range inside the walls.

The family has a rather rocky and unsavory history. The 11th chief married a Campbell woman, but eventually tired of her and chained her to a rock in the sea, so she would be drowned by the high tide. The was rescued, and her family retaliated - Sir John Campbell murdered the chief in Edinburgh for the slight.

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