Notes: The castle is found on a minor road off the A884 leading to Ardtornish. On-road parking is possible in the vicinity. There is also a nearby car park as part of the Ardtornish Estate (keep following the road).
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A restored fifteenth century Tower House that has now been converted into a private residence. There is no public access to the castle but the exterior can be viewed (at a distance) from the road.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
1990 Additions. The structure on top of the castle was added as part of the 1990 restoration.
1. Kinlochaline Castle is also known as Caisteal an Ime (Castle of Butter) as it is alleged the builder was paid with a quantity of butter equivalent to the volume of the castle.
A fifteenth century Tower House built by Clan MacInnes, Kinlochaline Castle was once a well connected settlement benefiting from its proximity to the Sound of Mull. The site was attacked in 1644 by the Royalist-Irish commander Alistair MacColla and again in 1679 by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll.
HISTORY OF KINLOCHALINE CASTLE
Kinlochaline Castle was built in the late fifteenth century in the form of a four storey, square Tower House as the primary seat of the MacInnes clan. Sited on high ground at the head of Loch Alpine, its remote location is deceptive - in medieval Scotland the lochs and waterways were the highways of the West coast and Kinlochaline Castle would have been well connected with the neighbouring settlements both on Mull and in the wider Argyll region. However these communication links were both an economic benefit and a defensive risk for the site saw regular Viking attacks in the twelfth century. In 1164, faced with ruin from these raids, the MacInnes clan allied themselves with Somerled and remained associated with his descendants - the powerful MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles - for two hundred years. However in 1368 a feud erupted with the then lord - John MacDonald - who tasked Donald MacLean to murder the MacInnes chieftan. He duly did so at nearby Ardtornish Castle along with other prominent members of the clan. The castle passed into the hands of the MacLeans.
The structure was modified in the early seventeenth century with the addition of angle turrets and a corbelled parapet. Although these were predominantly cosmetic additions, rather than practical defences, it was in the subsequent decades that the castle saw action. It was attacked on 7 July 1644 by the forces of the Royalist-Irish General Alasdair MacColla. He had been sent from Ireland to link up with James Graham, Marquis of Montrose in his operations against the Covenanters. With around 2,000 men he landed on Mull and attempted to enlist the support of Sir Lachlan MacLean of Duart Castle. Although he refused to support MacColla, the Irish General nevertheless commenced his operations on the mainland. The first site attacked was Kilochaline Castle which at that time was garrisoned by forces of the Covenanter Archibald Campbell, Marquess of Argyll. 400 men were detached from MacColla's force under the command of Manus O'Cahan who duly captured and burnt the castle.
Repairs were presumably made following MacColla's attack because Kinlochaline was attacked again in 1679 this time by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll (son of the Marquess mentioned above) as part of a regional feud. It was extensively damaged and by 1690 had been abandoned as a residence. By the time it was purchased by Sir Alexander Murray in 1730, it had become a roofless ruin.
The castle stood derelict until the late-nineteenth century when some restoration work was undertaken by the antiquarian Alexander Ross. However it wasn't until the late twentieth century when serious efforts were made to restore the site. Extensive rebuilding took place in the late 1990s, including the addition of a building on top of the battlements, and the entire castle has now been converted into a private residence.