Monday, June 24, 2013

Amazing Scotland - Dunstaffnage Castle

Walking up to the enormous bailey walls of Dunstaffnage, I was hit with the realization of what an impressive stronghold this was. Built in a picturesque setting where Loch Etive meets the Firth of Lorn, archaeological excavations have revealed that the castle was surrounded by a ditch 8 meters wide and 1.8 meters deep.

When Dunstaffnage Castle was built by Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn around 1220, Argyll lay on the frontier between the kingdoms of Scotland and Norway. Neither king controlled the region directly.

One of the oldest stone castles in Scotland, Dunstaffnage was in use as a lordly residence for nearly six centuries, and was only abandoned in 1810. Features surviving from the 13th century include the curtain wall (or outer bailey), the three projecting towers and the chapel.

Me standing in front of the curtain--just to give an idea of Dunstaffnage's size

The inner courtyard

The Wall Walk

The view from the Wall Walk

I just couldn't get enough of lovely Loch Etive
The Chapel (in ruins) A Short Walk from the Castle

Inside the Chapel
 Sequence of Events:

1098: King Edgar officially cedes the old kingdom of Dal Riata (now western Scotland and the Western Isles) to Magnus of Norway. In reality, both kings share power.

1140: Somerled emerges as undisputed ruler of the ruler as King of the Isles, a title he keeps until his death in 1164.

1220: Dunstaffnage Castle is begun by Somerled's grandson, Duncan. In 1230, he establishes Ardchattan Priory and helps King Hakon of Norway capture Scottish Lands

1240's: Alexander II of Scotland intensifies efforts to recover lost territory. He negotiates with Duncan's son, Ewen, the new King of the Isles. Ewan joins with his cousin, Hakon of Norway, and repels Alexander II's advances.

1260: Alexander III begins his personal reign--and drives out Hakon of Norway.

1266: The Treaty of Perth brings western Scotland under Scottish rule for the first time in 250 years. Ewen entrenches himself at Dunstaffnage, probably adding the corner towers.

1296: Edward I of England invades Scotland. In the ensuing war, the MacDougalls support the sidelined King John.

1306: Robert the Bruce seizes the Scottish throne, and in 1308 routs the MacDougalls and lays siege to Dunstaffnage.

1431: James I acts against rebellious Islesmen, hanging 300 at Dunstaffnage.

1470: James III grants Dunstaffnage to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll. Aside from a few years in the 17th century, the castle remains in Campbell hands until the 20th Century.

1725: The "New House" built as a free-standing two-story residence.

1908: The 9th Duke of Argyll engages in a dispute with the 20th captain of Dunstaffnage over rival bids to restore the castle for domestic use. The court ruled in favor of the keeper who had right of residence. During the first world war, the roof of the new house collapsed. When the 21st captain succeeded in 1958, he and the duke agreed to entrust the castle into State care.

A few things to mention: I'm very excited to say, my novel, Chihuahua Momma, will be released by Turquoise Morning Press on July 28, 2013!! Check out their web site: Turquoise Morning Press

Have you read Jen Greyson's LIGHTNING RIDER yet? I definitely recommend it: Lightning Rider on Amazon


  1. Another fabulous post! I tweeted and shared on FB.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, R. Mac, I'm getting excited about the release!

  3. Awesome post! We visited Dunstaffnage last Sept. and loved it. It is a fascinating place, especially the chapel. Beautiful photos! Congratulations on the upcoming release!

    1. Thanks, Vonda! Are you going on the Scotland/Ireland trip with the CHRWA group?

  4. The scenery around all the castles is always so pretty! Beautiful view of the lake, for sure.

  5. This is just enthralling. How could you NOT be inspired to write!

    1. I'd love to write inside the castle walls :-)

  6. Oh wow, what a great old place! And didn't you get a gorgeous day to tour it? Not a cloud in the sky! I enjoyed your history timeline too, Amy. Congrats on the upcoming release of Chihuahua Momma. Love the title!

  7. That is so picturesque! It must have been awesome visiting all these castles.

    1. Yep, and I can't wait to go back to see more!

  8. Congratulations!

    And those are some breathtaking pictures! I would love to visit there!

  9. Thanks for the pictures and timeline. Fascinating!!

  10. Amy, as you keep showing these special places I am developing a real yen to go back to Scotland myself (not in the winter though) Cheers