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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1018738

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The outstanding location of Duart Castle, dominating the southern approach to the Sound of Mull and visible by every traveller to Mull and the southern Hebrides, has helped to make Duart one of the classic residences of the Highland chieftain. There is an excellent guidebook to the castle describing its history and the contents of the main rooms; here we shall describe briefly the main architectural features, some of which were masked by the extensive renovations of 1911-12 by Colonel Sir Fitzroy MacLean, 26th Chief of the Clan MacLean.

The original fortification was a simple castle of enclosure probably rectangular on plan measuring about 21.5m by 19.7m internally; today the only portions of this work are on the south-east section of the curtain wall and the western corner of the present courtyard. This was probably a MacDougall castle dating to about the 13th century. The main portion of the castle, the tower-house, is oflate 14th century date by which time it was already in MacLean hands; the tower-house abuts the earlier work using the western corner of the earlier castle, and employing its walls as a stoutly defended courtyard. The unusually massive tower-house has four principal floors: cellars at the bottom, a first-floor hall (now the Banqueting Hall), the second floor (with the present Ante-Room and State Bedroom); the upper floors now house the Scout Exhibition.

The MacLean estates were lost to the family in the 1670s, though the castle continued to play an important part in the military affairs of the west. The final chapter of the castle's history begins in 1911 with the purchase of the castle by Sir Fitzroy MacLean and the initiation of the programme of restoration that has preserved the fabric, as well as adding features such as the Sea Room, more appropriate to the 20th century.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

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