Castle Sween is thought to be one of the earliest stone castles built in Scotland, having been built sometime in the late twelfth century. The castle's towers were later additions to wooden structures which have now since vanished.

Castle Sween takes its name from Suibhne, whose name was Anglicised as 'Sween'. He was thought to have built the castle. Suibhne was thought to have been a grandson of Hugh the Splendid O'Neill who died in 1047. In the thirteenth century, the Clan MacSween governed lands extending as far north as Loch Awe and as far south as Skipness Castle on Loch Fyne. In the later half of the thirteenth century the MacSween lands of Knapdale passed into the hands of the Stewart Earls of Menteith.

By the time of the Wars of Scottish Independence the MacSweens entered into the service of King Edward I of England in the hope of recovering their lands from the Earl of Menteith, however when Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland he displaced the MacSweens from their lands. After Robert the Bruce had defeated MacDougall Lord of Lorne in 1308, he then laid siege to Alasdair Og MacDonald in Castle Sween. Alastair gave himself up and was disinherited by Robert Bruce who then granted Islay to Alasdair's younger brother, Angus Og, the king's loyal supporter, who also received the Castle Sween in Kintyre from the King.

In 1310, Edward II of England granted John MacSween and his brothers their family's ancestral lands of Knapdale, (though by then Castle Sween was held by Sir John Menteith). It is possible that this could be the 'tryst of a fleet against Castle Sween', recorded in the Book of the Dean of Lismore, which tells of the attack of John MacSween on Castle Sween.

In 1323, after the death of Sir John Menteith, the Lordship of Arran and Knapdale passed to his son and grandson. In 1376 half of Knapdale, which included Castle Sween, passed into possession of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, by grant of Robert II of Scotland to his son-in-law John I, Lord of the Isles.

In 1647, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Castle Sween was attacked and burnt by Alasdair MacColla and his Irish Confederate followers.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Caroline Crook (12 months ago)
Very interesting place and very photogenic
Rich Green (13 months ago)
Very old 12th century castle, in a beautiful coastal setting. It lets the imagination run wild! Just a short walk (10 minutes) from a small road side car park, through a static caravan holiday park, and then you’re there!
Jane Smith (13 months ago)
It's great visit ,views lovely ,but no loos or refreshments. So go before you visit and take a picnic ,plenty of places to sit with a Wonderful view.
richard moss (15 months ago)
Great experience for little kids who enjoy exploring old castles, nice open grounds for bikes and a little beach
Mark Williams (15 months ago)
Castle Sween itself is absolutely fine with great views over the estuary and then on towards Jura, where the Paps occasionally peeked through on a cloudy day. The cafe however wasn't great with dreadful service where staff questioned intensely some of our party before allowing them to use the toilets. I can see why they challenged them as to be honest I wouldn't want anyone to use the toilets. Dreadful condition in terms of appearance and in considerable need of renovation. When you are at the end of the world and in the service sector possibly worth remembering that customers are sometimes an important part of your business and not an interruption.
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