Notes: Castle is reasonably well signposted and has a dedicated car park albeit there is a short walk to the actual castle itself.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A medieval castle with a largely complete curtain wall but ruinous insides set atop volcanic rock. The associated chapel is a short walk from the castle and is also under the care of Historic Scotland.
1. The seventeenth century historian John Monipennie recorded that the Stone of Destiny had been stored at Dun Monaidh whilst on route fro Ireland to Scone.
2. Following the defeat of the final Jacobite Rebellion in 1746 Flora MacDonald, an individual who had helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape, was briefly imprisoned at Dunstaffnage Castle.
Situated on a volcanic rock base on the shores of Loch Etive, Dunstaffnage Castle was built at a time when Argyll was disputed territory between the Kings of Scotland and Norway. Originally a MacDougal stronghold it passed to Clan Campbell in the fifteenth century who owned it until modern times.
HISTORY OF DUNSTAFFNAGE CASTLE
The first fortification on the site of Dunstaffnage Castle may have been a seventh century stronghold called Dun Monaidh which would have been part of the Dál Riata kingdom that stretched from Ulster in Northern Ireland as far north as Skye. Evidence for this remains inconclusive however and the only known structure is Dunstaffnage Castle itself which was built around 1220 by Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn. Constructed around the backdrop of a power-struggle between Scottish and Norwegian forces vying for control of Argyll and the Western Isles it was key to controlling Loch Etive.
Norwegian control of Western Scotland came to an end in 1266 at the Treaty of Perth; whilst the Western Isles were handed to the MacDonald Clan, who later received the title of Lord of the Isles, the MacDougalls also received Royal favour and continued to cement their position in Argyll. However in 1308 (the precise date is unknown) they fell out of favour; the MacDougals had sided with the English supported Balliol side during the Wars of Scottish Independence and following their defeat at the Battle of the Pass of Brander (probably 1308) at the hands of Robert I (the Bruce), the castle was confiscated. It then remained a Royal property until 1470 when James III granted it to Colin Campbell, Earl of Argyll.
During the Civil War Dunstaffnage was held against the King and withstood an attack by James Graham, Earl of Montrose in 1644. Later, after the restoration of the monarchy, it was attacked by Royalist troops following the Earl of Argyll's unsuccessful 1685 rebellion against James VII. Following the Glorious Revolution and the subsequent Jacobite Risings, the castle was garrisoned by Governmental forces but this was to be the last military use. A little over 60 years later, in 1810, an accidental fire gutted the castle and thereafter it drifted into ruin.