Fincharn Castle, Argyll & Bute
North of Ford
B840, off A816
The summit of a rock overlooking the South end of Loch Awe is filled with the ruins of a 13th century fortified hall-house. Access to the castle is a short walk opposite MacDonalds Farm across a rolling field of sheep towards a marshy area to the water's edge.
The few remaining walls are 4 feet thick except for the north section which are almost 7 feet thick and contained the main entrance. The building is much damaged and partly filled with rubble but is well worth the short walk to discover this forgotten The name Fincharn is derived from the Celtic Fiannacharn, the "Fingalians’ Mound", which is the name given to an unusually large burial cairn located on the nearby Fincharn Farm. The remains of a walled courtyard can be found to the South.
- ~ Legend ~
In the early 12th century, the lands of Glassary at the south end of Loch Awe were held by a chieftain called Mac Mhic Iain. His castle stood on a crag called Fionn-Charn, The Rock of Fion, surrounded on three sides by the waters of the loch. The tower had neither windows nor entrance gate.
Mac Mhic lain was an arrogant, overbearing chieftain who demanded from his people all the privileges of his position. One of his leading followers had a daughter called Una who fell in love with a neighbouring youth, and great was the joy when their wedding day was named - that is until Mac Mhic Iain heard the news and declared that on that night, he must have his rights' as overlord! In vain did Una throw herself at his feet in tears and plead with him. In vain did her father protest that such a barbaric custom had long died out. Mac Mhic Iain refused to listen and was adamant in his demand.
So, the marriage ceremony was a sad affair, and afterwards the guests gathered silently in the nearby wooden hall to eat the wedding feast. Then Mac Mhic Iain came striding in to join them, smiling at the sight of the white clad bride who would be his that night. But a frown darkened his face when he saw the groom was absent and then came a cry. Fire! Fionn-Charn's on fire! "The chief realised immediately what had happened and with an oath flung himself from the hall and raced alone towards his burning castle. He met Una's husband making his escape through the woods by the shore, and a desperate fight took place which ended with Mac Mhic Iain lying on the grass with the youth's sword blade at his throat. He promised to abdicate in exchange for his life as Fincharn Castle burned.
~ History ~
1240 - Following the land being granted to Gillascop MacGilchrist by King Alexander II. Gillascop was the second son of Gilchrist, a great grandson of the Irish prince Anrothan of the O'Neil line of kings of Northern Ireland. It was Anrothan's marriage in the eleventh century to a Scottish heiress that bought the family to Scotland. Both Gillasop and his brothers Gilchrist and Eoghan received gratitude and lands by the King for their support in military campaigns against the Norse lords who controlled the western islands.
1292 - The lands of Gillascop pass into the hands of Radulph, son of Gilbert, Lord of Dundee through marriage. The family acquire a new name of Glassary. In this same year the lands come under the new ownership into the sheriffdom of Argyle by King Baliol, with Radulph becoming one the of the twelve great barons of Argyle
1297 - Fincharn Castle is captured for King Edward I and then held by John MacDougall of Lorn.
1374 - The castle is granted to Gilbert de Glassery and subsequently to his son-in-law Alexander Scrymgeou, Constable of Dundee.
1668 - The long association with the castle by the descendants of Alexander Scrymgeou finally comes to an end. Tenants occupy the castle until falling into ruin in the early 1700's