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The History of Duntrune Castle

Duntrune Castle is a stunning 13th-century castle that sits in the very centre of a 5000-acre estate. It is situated high upon the awe-inspiring and rugged coastline of Argyll. It is certainly a special place considering the fact that it is nestled in the outstanding landscape of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada.

The history of Duntrune Castle

Duntrune Castle is steeped in personality and history. There is so much to see and enjoy both on the estate and in the surrounding landscape. The beautiful countryside and coastlines allow for imaginations to run wild. The castle sits atop a large promontory and overlooks a wide sandy bay.

It also looks inland along the river Add to the ancient fortress of Dunadd. Keep reading to step back in time and experience the magic of Duntrune Castle.

Duntrune Castle on an overcast day
The castle is surrounded by a very scenic landscape. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The early history

This lovely castle dates all the way back to the 13th century. It is extremely similar in concept to several of the other castles along the western seaboards. It was originally built by the MacDougall clan along with several others in the area including the MacDougall stronghold of Dunollie Castle near Oban. Many people believed that it was built by the Campbell clan, however, that has been disproven.

The MacDougalls

The MacDougall clan were opposed to Robert Bruce and were dispossessed by him at the start of the 14th century. Sir Neil Campbell, who was Bruce’s loyal companion, died in 1315 and it is said that his son was the first Campbell to have held a charter to Duntrune. However, the earliest record of the castle dates back to 1358 when Colin, son of John Campbell made a bond with Gilbert Scrymgeour of Glassary.

It is completely unknown as to how these Campbells are related to either Sir Neil or the later Campbells of Duntrune.

Duntrune Castle from the bottom of a hill
The castle was origionally built by the MacDougall Clan. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Campbells

The next mention of the castle was in 1448 when Duncan Campbell of Duntrune appeared on the record. However, despite traditional genealogies making him a very close relation of the chiefs, there is no record of this in the description given of him. From the mid 15th century onwards, the descent of the Campbells of Duntrune is a pretty straightforward series of events.

They resided mainly at Duntrune Castle and at the time, the castle was lined with buildings and likely a three-storey square tower. However, no evidence of those particular buildings survives to this current day.

Tumultuous times

The castle was supposedly attacked in the year 1644 by the rival MacDonald’s under Alasdair Mac Colla. It also seems as if the castle was possibly burned at this point. In the mid 17th century, the Duntrune estate became heavily burdened by debt and in 1671, Niall Campbell, provost of Inverary, took complete possession of the estate for that exact reason.

The title laird of Duntrune then passed to Patrick Campbell, brother of the indebted laird. Then, in 1792, the castle was sold to the Malcolm’s of Poltalloch. Later on, in 1954, the castle was completely renovated.

Duntrune Castle and stag
There is a statue of a stag that overlooks the scenic landscape. Source: Geograph.

The current day

These days, the castle is a private residence still owned by the Malcolm family. The gardens, however, are still open to the public. There is so much to do at the estate from sightseeing to simply enjoying the tranquillity.

You may enjoy reading about other Scottish Castles such as Dunvegan Castle.

Duntrune Castle Timeline

  • 13th century- Duntrune Castle is built
  • 1358- The castle is first recorded when Colin, son of John Campbell makes a bond with Gilbert Scrymgeour of Glassary
  • 1448- The castle is mentioned once again
  • 1644- The castle is attacked by the rival MacDonald’s under Alasdair Mac Colla and potentially burned
  • Mid 17th century- The Duntrune estate becomes heavily burdened by debt
  • 1671- Niall Campbell, provost of Inverary, takes complete possession of the estate
  • 1792- The castle is sold to the Malcolm’s of Poltalloch
  • 1954- The castle is completely renovated

Duntrune Castle facts

  • The castle consists of an irregular L-shaped tower house built into the corner of a much earlier courtyard wall
  • The gateposts of Skyfall Lodge, James Bond’s childhood home, were modelled after those at Duntrune
  • A popular photograph of Duntrune Castle is part of the original album inner sleeve art of the Blue Öyster Cult album Imaginos
  • The castle is a category B listed building
  • The area Duntrune Castle sits on is of huge historical significance and strategic importance
  • Dreams Lost, Dreams Found (1987)
  • Castle Ghosts of Scotland (1996)

Who owns Duntrune Castle?

After the Campbells sold Duntrune Castle to the Malcolm’s of Poltalloch in 1792, it seems they took quite the liking to it. To this day, the castle is still owned by a member of the family known as Robin Neill Malcolm. He is not only the current owner but also the clan chief of the Malcolm clan.


While Duntrune Castle and the surrounding estate is a private residence, the current owner is more than happy for people to come out and check out the garden. If they are contacted in advance, they are also more than happy to offer small tours for interested parties. Tours are not charged; however, small donations are appreciated to handle the castle gardens upkeep.

You can also stay at Duntrune Castle! The accommodation is absolutely wonderful with many different options available to enjoy your stay. If you fancy staying away for a few days, experience a true, authentic stay near one of Scotland’s lovely castles. There is no better way to spend your time in Scotland than next to a lovely castle with panoramic views.

Nearby, you can also visit Carnasserie Castle, Kilmartin Museum, Dunadd Fort, and Moine Mhor National Nature Reserve. There is plenty to see and do in and around Argyll, so it is a great idea to make a weekend of it to enjoy it as much as possible. Definitely add the gorgeous Duntrune Castle to your bucket list.

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