Duart Castle

Duart Castle, Isle of Mull

~ History ~

1200's - The MacDougalls build a courtyard stronghold at Duart.

1366 - Lachlan MacLean takes possession of Duart through marriage and commences the building of a powerful tower house inside the existing walls.

1498 - The extensive possessions of the MacLeans of Duart are made into a barony for a later Lachlan Maclean by King James IV.

1568 - Hector Mor, builder of the two storey range against the SE curtain walls dies.

1580's - Hector's grandson Sir Lachlan continues the development of the stronghold and in particular its domestic buildings by adding a further NE range joining his grandfathers range with the tower house.

1640's - Whilst Sir Lachlan MacLean is away supporting Montrose's campaign, the Campbells invade Mull and besiege Duart Castle. The stronghold withstands the siege until General Leslie arrives with his army.

1653 - The castle is surrendered without a fight to Colonel Cobbett and is garrisoned for Cromwell.

1674 - Despite being impoverished by the recent wars, Sir Allan MacLean completes the remodelling of the NE range shortly before his death. The estates are lost to Archibald, 9th Earl of Argyll, upon his death despite a show of armed resistance by some of the younger MacLeans.

1680's - The MacLeans recover their castle.

1692 - Sir John's resistance against the powerful Campbell's ends with his exile to France.

1745 - The castle is garrisoned by Hanovarian troops during the years of rebellion.

1748 - A survey reports that for £1,500 worth of repairs the castle can provide barracks for a peace-keeping force of 150 men.

The castle is later sold by the 6th Duke of Argyll and passes to Colonel Campbell of Possil.

1875 - Duart castle is again sold but just 36 years later Fitzroy Maclean, 10th Baronet of Duart, acquires it back and commences restoration of his clan's principle seat and stronghold.

~ Clan chieftan murder & the marooned wife ~

1520's ~ Lachlan Cattanach MacLean of Duart Castle, tiring of his Campbell wife, decides to maroon her on a tidal rock to die. However, before the tide can claim his wife's life and cover his deed, she is spotted by fishermen.

Upon clambering onto the fishermen's boat she makes it known to them she is the sister of the powerful Campbell Earl of Argyll.

Lachlan later sends a note to his brother-in-law wife the sad news that his wife, and the Earl's sister, had been drowned in a tragic accident.

The furious Earl writes back that his sister's body has been found and invites Lachan MacLean to come with a coffin so that she can be buried.

Lachlan duly arrives with a coffin but at the funeral feast finds his wife acting as hostess. The furious Campbell's having madetheir point allow the Maclean's to leave. However, another Campbell brother later catches up with Lachlan when in Edinburgh, stabbing him to death whilst he sleeps in his bed.

~ Clan treachory & the marooned Clan chieftain ~

1550's ~ Hector Mor of Duart Castle, chief of Clan Maclean, supports his kinsman Ian the Toothless, chief of clan Maclaine, in his fight against Ian's own son Ewan of the Little head, to take over the Maclaine power from his father. In the violent quarrel Ewan loses his head to a Maclean sword.

However, this does not bring the hostilities to an end, as Hector Maclean turns on Ewan's father, Ian the Toothless who is captured and taken to the unhinhabited Treshnish Isle of Caimburgh. There he is marooned with only an old and ugly female servant as a companion. Hector's intention is that there would be no further heirs to complicate Maclean-Maclaine dynasty, for Ewan is Ian's only son and heir.

Only when Ian had died does Hector allow the woman to be rescued and be set free. Unknown to Hector the woman had given birth to a baby boy who she manages to smuggle to safety and keep the birth a secret.

In secret in Ireland Murdochthe Stunted grows up and eventually comes to the Isle of Mull and there wins his father's land of Lochbuie from Hector Mor's son.


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After his marriage in 1366 to Mary, daughter of John of Islay, Lachlan MacLean took possession of extensive estates on Mull and added a massive tower house on the NW side of a court built by the MacDougalls a century earlier. The large court is surrounded by walls over seven feet thick in places. The tower itself is over sixty feet high with walls up to 12 feet thick at its base. In the 15th century Duart Castle became the principle seat of the MacLean's.

As you sail from Oben across to Mull it is Duart Castle that appears out of the mist like some ancient sentinel, dramatic and spectacular.

Access to the castle is very easy from the car park and there is so much to see inside of real interest. We were fortunate to be shown round the castle by a direct descendant of the MacLean's and so was able to talk about his family history and home with so much knowledge and interest.

Visiting Duart Castle is an absolute must and real highlight to any castle exploring in the Highlands.