Scottish Castles Photo Library
- Duart Castle Mull
Duart Castle is on a rocky headland - "Dubh Ard"or "Dark Headland" on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland and dates back to the 13th century. The graphic on the right of Duart Castle across Duart Bay is via Wikimedia Commons.
In 1350 Lachlan Lubanach Maclean of Duart, the 5th Clan Chief, married the daughter of John of Islay, Lord of the Isles who gave Duart as her dowry. This was despite her father only agreeing to the marriage after being kidnapped by Lachlan. The new owner added the Keep and the north-west part of the site and the other two wings were added in the 16th and 17th centuries. The castle became the seat of the Maclean clan chiefs who are descended through the house of Lorn from the Dalriadic Kings of the Scots.
The 11th chief, Lachlan Cattanach Maclean of Duart, tiring of his wife, a Campbell, marooned her on what is known these days as Lady Rock in the Sound of Mull, expecting her to drown at high tide. However, she was rescued and returned to tell her father, the Campbell Earl of Argyll, who sent word to Lachlan that his wife's body had been "found" and to come and collect her with a coffin! Lachlan's reaction when he found her acting as hostess at the "funeral feast" is not known! But the Campbells had a dim view of the attempted murder and the 11th chief was later killed in Edinburgh by Sir John Campbell of Cawdor. It didn't pay to upset the Campbells in those days...
In 1647, Duart Castle was attacked and besiege by government troops, but they were defeated and driven off by the Royalist troops of Clan Maclean. (The graphic of the canon on the left is via Wikimedia Commons.
In early September 1653, a Cromwellian task force of six ships anchored off the castle, but the Macleans had already fled to Tiree. A storm blew up on the 13 September and three of the ships were lost, including HMS Swan, a 200 ton warship of the English Royal Navy. In 1979, a diver found the remnants of the Swan and items from the wreck were recovered during the 1990s in an excavation led by a maritime archaeologist from the University of St Andrews in Fife. Items recovered at that time included a corroded pocket watch, many silver coins, iron guns and other military artefacts. The items were deposited with the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh
In 1678, Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll, son of the Marquess of Argyll, successfully invaded the Clan Maclean lands on the Isle of Mull and Sir John Maclean, 4th Baronet fled the castle and withdrew to Cairnbulg Castle, and afterward to Kintail under the protection of the Earl of Seaforth.
In 1691 Duart Castle was surrendered by Sir John Maclean, 4th Baronet to Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll to pay off the Maclean family’s debts. The Campbell clan demolished the castle, and the stones from the walls were scattered. Donald Maclean, 5th Laird of Torloisk used some of the stones to build a cottage for his family close to the site of the castle and by 1751 the remains of the castle had been totally abandoned.
Descendants of Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll, sold the castle in 1801, to MacQuarrie, who then sold it to Carter-Campbell of Possil who kept it as a ruin within the grounds of his own estate to the north, Torosay Castle. He later sold his Torosay Estate including the ruins of Castle Duart to A. C. Guthrie in 1865. On September 11, 1911, the ruin was separated from the rest of the Torosay Estate and was bought by Sir Fitzroy Donald Maclean, the 26th Chief of the Clan Maclean and was restored. (The graphic on the right if the entrance to the castle is via Wikimedia Commons).
But by 2012, the centenary of the 1912 restoration, the Chief of Clan Maclean announced that his family could no longer afford the upkeep of the castle in light of the expense of major repairs. In the winter of 2013-14 the castle lost four ceilings, which were brought down by water penetration through the chimneys. In July 2014, a Restoration Appeal was launched by Sir Lachlan Maclean of Duart and Morvern, Bt, CVO, DL, 28th Chief of the Clan Maclean. See Duart Castle Appeal. Historic Scotland are providing support and the family have committed to make a contribution as well, but they are still left with over £600,000 to raise. Donations can be made via the appeal Web site by PayPal or electronic fund transfers.
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