Dunstaffnage Castle is just of the A85 approximately 3 miles north of Oban turn into Dunbeg village and follow the signs.
The castle is built on a rocky outcrop at the southern entrance to Loch Etive. The name Dunstaffnage is derived from 'dun', gaelic for fort with the remainder of the name coming from the Norse staff-nis, meaning headland.
There has been some form of defensive settlemant on this spot since the beginning of the 7th century when the Kings of Dalriada arrived in Argyll from Ireland.
Stone of DestinyDunstaffnage Castle was once the capital of Dalriada, ancient kingdom of the Scots. It is recorded that, en-route from Ireland, the Stone of Destiny was taken from Iona and briefly kept in Dunstaffnage as a safe haven before being transported to Scone Palace in 843. The stone was used in the cornation ceremonies of Scottish kings until 1296 when it was removed by King Edward 1st and sent to Westminster Abbey.
On St Andrews day 1996 the stone was returned to Edinburgh Castle. But is it the real stone? After a student prank to return it to Scotland in the 60s with runmours of fake stones, who knows?
Much of the castle as it today was built by the MacDougalls in the 1200s when they also built a chapel much of which remains today and is also worth a visit.
In 1249 Alexander 2nd planned to lay seige to Dunstaffnage and its keepers who had been appointed by the King of Norway in his efforts to take the Hebrides from Norwegian rule. It was not to be and Alexander died in suspicious circumstance on the Island of Kerrera.
The building remained a MacDougall stronghold until 1309, when it was seized by Robert the Bruce who declared it a royal castle and appointed the Campbells as hereditary keepers. In 1470 ownership was passed to the Earl of Argyll and 1502 to his cousin who became known as the Captain of Dunstaffnage.
The castle was burnt in 1685 by King James 2nd and dutch troops to quash an uprising by the Earl and his supporters. Painstakingly rebuilt it became a garrison for goverment forces in during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion and was the temporary prison of Flora MacDonald in 1746 before she was moved to London and was jailed for assisting Bonnie Prince Charlie.
In 1958 the 21st Captain and the Duke of Argyll handed the castle over to the state and it is now the responsibilty of Historic Scotland.
Dunstaffnage castle is open to visitors all year round and there is a small exhibition & gift shop. Car parking is free.
April - September 9.30am-5.30pm
October - March 9.30am-4.30pm.
In winter, it is closed on Thursday and Friday.
A small admission charge is payable.
For more information telephone 01631 562465.
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