The ruins of a thirteenth century castle. The remains are heavily overgrown making them difficult to explore but are accessible for the adventurous. Strong footwear is recommended!
NO OFFICIAL SITE
Car Parking Option
A848, PA72 6JG
Notes: The castle is located in Aros Mains and accessible via a right of way over a private road. Vehicular parking in the vicinity is difficult and visitors are advised to use the lay-by detailed above and walk to the castle. The castle isn’t sign-posted but clearly visible across the water when proceeding along the A848.
Constructed in the thirteenth century by the MacDougalls, Aros Castle was once at the heart of a thriving network of settlements that were connected by the waterways and lochs of western Scotland. The castle passed into the hands of the Campbells in the mid-seventeenth century and was later garrisoned during the first Jacobite rebellion.
HISTORY OF AROS CASTLE
Aros Castle was probably built by one of the MacDougall, Lords of Lorn at some point during the thirteenth century. The initial structure was a hall house, probably originally a two storey structure, set within a bailey. This area, which was constructed on top of a flat-topped promontory, would have been occupied by all the supporting buildings associated with such a settlement including a brewhouse, bakehouse and stables. The landward side was protected by a ditch and stone curtain wall. Today its remote location belies the fact this was once a well connected site for in medieval Scotland the lochs, inlets and waterways of the Western seaboard were the main communication arteries. A stone built landing to the east of the castle was probably contemporary with the hall house. The first written record to the castle, which refers to it as Dounarwyse Castle, dates from the fourteenth century and it had seemingly passed to the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles by this time.
A key adviser to James VI (1567-1622) was Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll. He used his influence at court to ensure Royal intervention to weaken the powers of the MacDonalds as well as their kinsmen, the MacLeans, who controlled most of Mull from their stronghold at Duart Castle. In 1608 the King sent Andrew Stuart, Lord Ochiltree to Mull to subdue these factions and he took control of Aros Castle. He invited the clan chiefs to a cordial dinner onboard his flagship that was moored in the sound but, when they arrived, he took them prisoner. They were taken to Edinburgh where they were coerced into signing the Statutes of Iona which introduced measures to reduce the influence of the Gaelic Lords. The Campbells took permanent control of Aros Castle at this time.
Despite the actions of James VI, the MacLeans remained loyal to the Crown throughout the Wars of Three Kingdoms. By contrast Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll was head of the Covenanter Government which declared war on the King in 1643. When the King appointed James Graham, Marquis of Montrose as his commander in the north, the two clans found themselves at war. Montrose was ultimately defeated but the Campbell/MacLean relationship never recovered and tit-for-tat raids were made on each other's properties which probably meant Aros Castle was attacked at this time. Certainly by 1688 was in a poor state of repair for a report described it as “ruinous”.
The overthrow of the Stuart regime in 1688 led to the Jacobite rebellions. The MacLeans supported the ousted Stuart regime whilst the Campbells were for the Government. Despite its dilapidated condition, Aros Castle was garrisoned for King William until Duart Castle was captured in the aftermath of the 1689 rebellion. After this time Aros Castle was allowed to drift into ruin.