Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel

For our last day in Scotland I had planned to visit Dunstaffnage Castle. Fortunately we had managed to leave Mull the day before, so there were no obstacles for an early morning visit of the castle.

built upon a rock @Dunstaffnage Castle

The year before I had read a series about the imagined guard of Robert the Bruce, from the beginning of his struggle in 1306 until Bannockburn in 1314. Besides the romance, I loved the detailed descriptions of the west of Scotland in these books. Dunstaffnage Castle featured quite often after Robert the Bruce captured it in 1308 and it remained a royal castle for another 150 years or so. The castle was built around 1220, which makes it one of the oldest stone castles of Scotland. So of course I had to see it while in the area.

the castle up close @Dunstaffnage Castle

Inside these might walls there is one newer part. It’s visible by the windows on top of the wall. This tower is the former gatehouse from the end of the 15th century. You can still see the former entrance in the wall.

the gatehouse from the 15th century @Dunstaffnage Castle

Like every good castle Dunstaffnage had a well inside, so that during a siege people had enough water. On the right side was a round tower, the so called donjon or keep. It was the largest tower and used for the lord’s private rooms. Not much height is left of it.

inside the castle walls @Dunstaffnage Castle

Looking at the picture it looks kind of small. And it didn’t seem much larger, when I saw it person. I am sure there were a couple of floors in this tower, but it still looks remarkable small. The rooms must not have been more than tiny chambers. So much for privacy in the 13th century.

From the top of the castle we had a good view. This must have been the same in former times and one of the reasons it was built here. Plus from here, whoever held the castle had access to all the isles in the west.

view from the top of the wall @Dunstaffnage Castle

Just a couple of steps from the back side of the castle was another access to the water with more view on anyone nearing this post.

sea access on the back side of Dunstaffnage Castle @Scotland

The chapel of Dunstaffnage was not within the walls, but a short walk through the woods. Upon approach it looked rather modern, but its foundation is from the 13th century as well.

chapel @Dunstaffnage Castle

The burials inside are younger since until the 16th century this chapel had no rights to do so. This was left to see, I didn’t get any Robert the Bruce feeling.

burials within the chapel @Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle has once held a really important prisoner. Flora MacDonald helped Bonnie Prince Charles escape after the battle of Culloden, dressing him as her maid. In 1746 she was caught and held at this castle here, before being brought to London. So there is quite a lot of history linked to Dunstaffnage Castle. Yours, Pollybert

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