Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kilchurn Castle

So, lately I've been doing a lot of Chateaus and Fairytale Castles, which are all nice and good in their own way, but I wanted something different. Like a old stone ruin castle, a castle that actually looked like It'd seen some action. A real he-castle.

Okay, okay, it got creamed in a lightning storm, BUT IT LOOKS COOL!

I'm speaking of Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It was built in about 1450 by Sir Colin Campbell, first Lord of Glenorchy, as a five story tower house with a courtyard defended by an outer wall. By about 1500 an additional range and a hall had been added to the south side of the castle.

Further buildings went up during the 16th and 17th centuries. Kilchurn was on a small island in Loch Awe scarcely larger than the castle itself, although it is now connected to the mainland as the water level was altered in 1817. The castle would have been accessed via an underwater or low lying causeway.

At the turn of the 16th century Kilchurn Castle was extended by Sir Duncan Campbell with the addition of a single story dining hall built along the inside of the south curtain. During the second half of the century, another Sir Colin Campbell, the 6th Laird, continued to improve the castle's accommodation by adding some chambers to the north of the tower house, and remodeling the parapet. This included the introduction of the circular corner turrets adorned by corbels, most of which have survived remarkably well.
Engraving of Kilchurch Castle by William Miller, 1846

Towards the end of the 16th century the Clan MacGregor of Glenstrae were occupying the castle. Once owning the lands of Glenorchy during the 14th century, until they passed through marriage to the Campbells, the MacGregors were appointed keepers to Kilchurn Castle as the Campbells spent much of their time at Fincharn.

This arrangement lasted until the very early part of the 17th century, when a violent feud between the two families brought it to an end and the Campbells retook possession.
In 1681 Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy was made 1st Earl of Breadalbane. To take advantage of the turbulence of the times, he converted Kilchurn into a modern barracks, capable of housing 200 troops. His main addition was the three story L-shaped block along the north side.

In 1760 the castle was badly damaged by lightning and was completely abandoned; the remains of a turret of a tower, still resting upside-down in the center of the courtyard, attest to the violence of the storm. I wasn't kidding.

The ruin is currently in the care of Historic Scotland, and is open to the public during the summer.
Math latha.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even though its end was somewhat unusual for a castle, it did have an interesting history. It must have been struck by lightning because it was owned by Campbells. Just can't trust those guys. :P

~ A.K. ~