Kinlochaline Castle was built in the fifteenth century on the site of an earlier fortification. The Tower House overlooked Loch Alpine and provided direct access to the Sound of Mull, a major trade route that connected the site to the wider region. The castle was attacked in 1644 by Alistair MacColla and again in 1679 by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll.
Kinlochaline was in the hands of the MacInnes clan no later than the twelfth century and they had some form of fortification there at this time. Although today the site appears remote, in medieval Scotland the lochs and waterways were the highways of the West coast meaning Kinlochaline would have been well connected with the wider 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 bitter feud started when John MacDonald ordered his kinsman, Donald MacLean, to murder the MacInnes chieftain. Donald duly obeyed and slaughtered both the MacInnes chief and other prominent members of the clan at nearby Ardtornish Castle. Kinlochaline then passed into the hands of the MacLeans and they rebuilt Kinlochaline Castle in the form of a Tower House in the late fifteenth century.
Kinlochaline Castle was a four storey, rectangular Tower House sited upon a rocky knoll overlooking the confluence of the River Aline and Loch Alpine. The ground floor was originally an unvaulted storeroom accessed from a door on the south side. The level above was the Great Hall and had its own entrance, also on the south side. The upper levels served as accommodation. An additional range extended northwards from the tower which provided additional storage and hosted the ancillary facilities. The structure was modified in the early seventeenth century with the addition of angle turrets plus a corbelled parapet and the ground floor was converted into two vaulted cellars.
The castle 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. He landed on Mull with around 2,000 men and attempted to enlist the support of Sir Lachlan MacLean of Duart Castle. His request for support was ignored but MacColla was undeterred and commenced his operations on the mainland. The first site attacked was Kinlochaline Castle which, at that time, was garrisoned by forces of the Covenanter Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll. MacColla detached a force of 400 men under the command of Manus O'Cahan who duly captured and burnt the castle.
Kinlochaline Castle was clearly repaired as it was attacked again in 1679, this time by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll (son of the Marquis), 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. Thereafter the castle stood derelict until the 1890s when some historically inaccurate restoration work was undertaken by the antiquarian Alexander Ross on behalf of Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope. Serious efforts were made to restore the site in the late twentieth century. 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.
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Kinlochaline Castle is a restored fifteenth century Tower House that has 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.
Kinlochaline Castle. The castle occupies a rocky knoll overlooking Loch Aline. A castle was established on the site no later than the twelfth century when it was held by the MacInnes clan. This early castle was known as Caisteal an Ime (the Castle of Butter), so called because its builder was paid with a volume of butter equal to the volume of the fortification. The current castle was a Tower House built in the late fifteenth century, upgraded in the 1600s and converted into a modern residence between 1990 and 2000.
1990s Additions. The house-like structure on top of the castle was added during the 1990 restoration.
Turrets. The turrets were added circa-1600.
River Aline. The castle overlooks the confluence of the River Aline with Loch Aline.
Kinlochaline Castle is found on a minor road off the A884 near Ardtornish. On-road parking is possible in the vicinity. Alternatively there is a nearby car park as part of the Ardtornish Estate (keep following the road). The latter is perfect for individuals also wishing to visit Ardtornish Castle.
Car Parking Option