Kilchurn Castle is a ruined 15th and 17th century structure on a rocky peninsula at the northeastern end of Loch Awe. It was the ancestral home of the Campbells of Glen Orchy, who later became the Earls of Breadalbane also known as the Breadalbane family branch, of the Clan Campbell. The earliest construction on the castle was the towerhouse and Laich Hall.

Kilchurn Castle was built in about 1450 by Sir Colin Campbell, first Lord of Glenorchy, as a five storey 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-storey 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 remodelling the parapet. This included the introduction of the circular corner turrets adorned by corbels, most of which have survived remarkably well.

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-storey L-shaped block along the north side.

Kilchurn was then used as a government garrison during the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings. The Campbells attempted, unsuccessfully, to sell Kilchurn to the government, after they moved in 1740 to Taymouth Castle in Perthshire.

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 centre of the courtyard, attest to the violence of the storm.

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Founded: c. 1450
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Mark Burke (2 years ago)
Absolutely disappointed with this visit. I visit many historical sites when I can because I am a second year history student. No access to castle due to refurbishment and nothing giving a thorough history of the building. You would be better to read about it on the internet than waste your time going there. However, if you're passing by, it's worth a stop to take a picture which would take you 5 minutes.
Occlusal Connections (2 years ago)
Very photogenic but weather not always predictable
Mike Berry (2 years ago)
Great photo opportunity from the bank of the opposite shore (free to visit)
David Sneddon (3 years ago)
An amazing site well worth photographing. The land across from the castle is very muddy. I bumped into the owner of the land and she said that too many tourists are making it worse. They put pallets down to make a walkway but campers set fire to them for their camping stoves. I never had time to go into the castle but hopefully I will on my next visit.
Fourth Gear (3 years ago)
Nice place to visit.. hard to find as there is a lot of building work going on to the near by railway bridge. If you see workers vehicles your at the right place. Nice to walk around but I found the view from the bank opposite much better.
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