Monday, May 29, 2006

Ardtornish Castle, Morvern, Scotland

Ardtornish Castle
Ardtornish Point
Nr Lochaline

Ardtornish Castle was once the seat of the high chiefs of the Donald Clan, from the early 14th to late 15th century. The castle is sited on a headland in the Sound of Mull, about a mile south east of the village of Lachaline. The castle was possibly built in the second half of the 13th century, and probably abandoned by the end of the 17th century.

The main ruins that can be seen today, consist of the remains of the Hall house, rising around 32 feet above the sea below it. Traces of other buildings can still be seen on the North side of the hall. A small boat house has been identified, as has a kiln. There are no defensive earth works at the site, either on the sea ward or land ward side of the castle. It appears that the natural position of the castle was enough to ward off potential attackers.The castle was restored between 1910 and 1915, albeit badly, with much of the outer walls refaced. Many of the windows were altered or even blocked up, and many of the rooms that can still be seen are full of debris from collapsed walls and roofs.

The surviving walls of the hall house are around 9 feet thick in places, and rise to around 16 feet at their highest points. The hall house, shown in both photos here, measures around 55 by 30 feet, and is built upon a rocky outcrop, no doubt providing yet further stability and strength for this well placed castle. Access to Ardtornish was mainly by sea, and the beach is littered with tiny coves and inlets in which small boats could be moored. You are able to get to the castle's remains, but it involves a trek of some seven or eight miles. From Ardtornish village, there is a track that runs along the East shores of Loch Aline. As the headland of Ardtornish Point comes into view, you have to leave the track, and continue South for about three quarters of a mile. The castle lays directly in front of you.

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