Duntrune Castle

Duntrune Castle, Argyll

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~ History ~

1100's ~ The MacDougall's build themselves a castle on the shore of Loch Crinan.

1600 ~ An L-plan tower house is build and incorprates parts of the original 12th century castle.

1615 ~ The MacDonalds are led by Sir Alistar MacDonald, also known as the dreaded Colkitto, a master in hit and run guerrilla tactics.

He made his reputation among the clans in defeating the Covenant armies in seven brutal battles.

In the process Colkitto had helped the Clan MacIntyre of Glen Coe, and as a reward for this assistance, the Clan Chief gave Colkitto his favorite piper to accompany him on his battle campaign.


Colkitto continues his march through Argyll eventually arriving at Duntrune Castle. In a daring night raid, his men surprise and defeat the Campbell defenders. The piper and a small band of Colkitto's men are left to garrison the castle while he boards his galley and sailes away to meet with other Royalists.

Before Colkitto is able to return, the Campbell's mount a counter attack on Duntrune, capturing the castle. In an act of vengeance the Campbell's kill all of Colkittos men except the MacIntyre piper, who is ordered to play for the amusement of his captors.


The Campbell's then wait impatiently for Colkitto to return to Duntrune.  Finally one day his galley comes into view in the Sound of Jura, and the clever piper asks permission to play a tune that he had created for the occasion - so they bid him to play on.

The piper takes his place high on the castle ramparts and begins playing.

Colkitto listens closely, and notices mistakes and missed phrases that are unusual for such an accomplished piper. Waving a grateful salute to the brave piper, he orders the helm hard about and escapes to the open sea.


The piper is taken before the commander of the castle, Lady Dunstaffnage, known as "'the black bitch".

Confronted with the treachery, she gives the order that the piper's hands be cut off so that "'He will  never again give a similar warning'.

The exhausted piper extends his hands, and the Campbell's watch as his hands are severed from his arms with a single blow from a chopping axe.

Unable to stop the flow of blood, the piper soon dies.

1792 ~The Campbells sell Duntrune Castle to the Malcolms of Poltalloch who extend the castle further still with additional accomodation.

1870 ~ A skeleton is unearthered in the castle's kitchen beneath stone flags. Closer examination finds the skeleton has both hands missing. The skeleton is given a proper burial outside the castle walls.


Nr Kilmartin, Lochgilphead


Off , B8025, A816


PA31 8QQ

Duntrune Castle comprises of an early 17th century tower house incorporating 13th century elements. The first castle at Duntrune is thought to have been built by the MacDougall family in the 12th century.

The castle stands on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Crinan, set within beautiful countryside.

As the oldest continuously occupied castle in Scotland, this is also a private home and although there is a road leading up to the castle, any visitors should respect the owners privacy and will find the best photo's are taken at a distance from the road.