Eodem anno  infra octavas Ascencionis beatae Virginis Mariae idem rex Ergadiensis devicit in medio Ergadiae et totam terram sibi subegit, ducem eorum nomine Alexandrum de Argadia fugientem ad castrum de Dunstafinch per aliquod tempus inibi obsedit, qui eidem regi Castrum reddidit et sibi homagium facere recusans, dato salvo conductu sibi et omnibus secum recedere volentibus in Angliam fugit et ibidem debitum naturae persolvit.
John of Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, cxxvi.
The king that stout wes stark and bauld
Till Dunstaffynch rycht sturdely
A sege set and besily
Assaylit the castell it to get,
And in schort tym he has thaim set
In swilk thrang that tharin war than
That magre tharis he it wan,
And ane gud wardane tharin set
And betaucht hym bath men and met
Sua that he lang tyme thar mycht be
Magre thaim all off that countre.
How the Campbells came into possession of Torr-an-tuirc.
TORR-AN-TUIRC is partly an arable but chiefly a grazing hill-farm,
and is situated at the north-east corner of Lochnell (Loch-nan-eala).
This farm gave its name to a property which comprised several farms—viz., Torr-an-tuirc, Cabrachan, Kilmore (A’ Chill-mhòr), Dailnacàbaig, Kille-choinnich (Cille-Choinnich), Srontoilleir, and Baile-ghobhainn—all lying around Lochnell. This property belonged at one time to a family of MacDougalls, who were called the MacDougalls of Torr-an-tuirc. The last of them was an unmarried man who had no heirs, or at least none to whom he was inclined to bequeath his property. When he was well advanced in years it occurred to him that it was proper for him to settle it on some one. From a feeling of friendship to the Dunollie family, and of loyalty to his clan, he resolved to make it over to the laird of Dunollie’s second son. He went on a certain day to Dunollie (Dunolla) Castle with this object in view, taking with him the title-deeds. On entering the hall he unbuckled his sword and left it there. When he was shown into the room where his chief was, he informed him of the business on which he had come, and handed to him the title-deeds of Torr-an-tuirc. While these two worthies were together settling affairs, some of the idlers (there were generally plenty of such about the mansions of Highland families in the olden time) about the castle bethought them of playing a practical joke on the old laird of Torr-an-tuirc. Taking the sword out of its scabbard, they poured water into the scabbard and placed it against the wall, with the sword beside it. When the laird of Torr-an-tuirc came down to the hall and put the sword back into the scabbard, the water squirted on his hands. Resenting at once what he regarded as an indignity, he returned to the room where the chief was and demanded back the title-deeds, alleging that a clause had been omitted which would require to be supplied. They were given back to him at once. He no sooner received them than he took his departure, mounted his horse, and rode to Inverary (Ionaraora), where he made over the property to the Earl of Argyll’s second son. This was John Gorm, the first of the Campbells of Lochnell, with whom the property has continued ever since.
The date of the subject of this tale is about 1500.
Note.—Cabrachan was given by John Gorm to his son John, who was called John òg of Cabrachan.
— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
MACFADYEN came from Ireland (Eirin) to Cantyre (Cinn-tìre), with a following of 1400 men, to assist King Edward in his efforts to conquer Scotland. From Cantyre he made his way to Lorne (Lathurna), where he was joined by a party of the MacDougalls. When the Knight of Lochow (Loch-odha) heard of his coming, he sent a messenger to inform Sir William Wallace of it, who was at the time in Perthshire (Siorramachd Pheairt). Sir William was not slow in marching to meet the enemy. The two hosts encountered each other in the Pass of Awe (Atha). MacFadyen and his men were defeated and routed. He, and as many of his officers as escaped with him, hid themselves in a cave in the face of a rock called Creag-an-aoinidh. Sir William sent the Knight of Lochow and a party of men in pursuit of the fugitives; and having found them in the cave, they cut off their heads, and placed them on stakes on the top of Creag-an-aoinidh. This cave is called MacFadyen’s Cave to the present day.
The battle between Wallace and MacFadyen took place in 1300.
Makfadyane fled, for all his felloun stryff
On till a cave, within a clyfft of stayne
Wnde Cragmore, with fyftene is he gayne
Dunkan off Lorn his leyff at Wallace ast;
On Makfadyane with worthi me he past
He grantyt him to put them all to ded:
Thai left nane quyk, syne brocht Wallace his hed;
Apon a sper throuch out the feild it bor.
The Lord Cambell syne hint it by the har;
Heich in Cragmore he maid it for to stand
Steild on a stayne for honour off Irland.
Henry the Menstrel, Buke Sewynd, 858-868.
— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
(These notes on the Galley for Lorne are based upon letters which appeared in the ‘Scotsman,’ signed “Ergadiensis,” “T.H.I.S.,” and “Mr H.D. Smith,” all of whom wrote in answer to letters from me in the ‘Scotsman’ or ‘Glasgow Herald.’ — Ed.)
THE charter […] 1470 was no confirmation of the heiresses’ claim to Lorne, for none of the respective husbands ever made any claim through them; it was the sequel of a long tragedy. In 1463, John Stewart, Lord Lorne, was murdered at Dunstaffnage by a MacDougall, to prevent him legitimising his son Dugald; but he lived a sufficiently long time to marry Dugald’s mother.
For six long years there was a bloody struggle for the possession of Lorne, between Dugald and the Lorne Stewarts on the one side, and the MacDougalls, secretly helped by Argyll and Dugald’s, uncle Walter Stewart, on the other. In the year 1469, Dugald Stewart and the MacDougalls, being both exhausted, Mac Cailein Mòr got from Walter Stewart a resignation in his own favour of the claims of Walter, which he alleged he had in Lorne, and interfered actively in the quarrel. Neither Dugald nor his adversaries were able, after six long years of contention, to resist this powerful opponent, and he had to compromise his right to the whole of his father’s lands for Appin, and became the ancestor of the Stewarts of Appin.
After this compromise only, in 1469, Walter took seisin of Lorne, and granted it in pretended exchange for others to Cailein Mòr; and in 1470 this exchange was confirmed by the minor James III., at whose Court Argyll was supreme.
About the year 1388, the Galley, the family cognisance of the MacDougalls — the “Lords of Lorne of Auld,” as Sir David Lyndsay, Lord Lyon King-at-Arms calls them — a branch of the family of the Lords of the Isles, was quartered by Sir John Stewart on his marriage with a daughter and co-heiress of John MacDougall, Lord of Lorne; and three generations later it was assumed by Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, and Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, afterwards first Earl of Argyll, some time after their marriage with two of the daughters of Sir John Stewart, Lord of Lorne. Glenorchy, who married the eldest, also assumed the fess “checquy” of the Stewarts.
John of Lorne, having no lawful son (Stewart of Appin being a natural son), some years before his death executed a deed of settlement in favour of his own brothers, the Stewarts of Innermeath, as next heirs male.
The deed was confirmed by charter under the Great Seal, 1452; and on the death of the old chief in 1463, his eldest surviving brother, Walter, claimed and succeeded to the estate and dignity.
Argyll’s seal, appended to a charter dated 17th December 1470, granting to his uncle, Sir Colin of Glenorchy, a part of his recent acquisition of Lorne, in exchange for Glenorchy’s share of the Clackmannan lands, is not charged with the Galley (Laing’s ‘Ancient Scottish Seals’).
The three daughters1 were co-heiresses of the lands of Dollar and Gloom, but not of Sir John Stewart’s great baronies of Redcastle, Innermeath, and Lorne. The actual transaction by which these were transferred to Argyll was this: In 1469 the new chief granted an indenture binding himself to resign the lordship of Lorne in favour of Colin, Earl of Argyll, in exchange for the lands of Kildoning, Baldoning, and Innerdoning, in Perthshire; the lands of Culrain, in Fife; and Cutkerry, in Kinross: the Earl on his part binding himself to use his influence (which was very great) to procure for him another title — namely that of Lord Innermeath — which was done, and within a year the patent passed the Great Seal.
It is scarcely correct to say that the co-heiresses of the Clackmannan lands, one-third of which estates were appointed to each of the three heiresses, inherited only these lands; for the eldest, marrying Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, 1448, carried to her husband a small grant of lands adjoining Glenorchy, extending to somewhat less than six2 merks out of the Lorne estates (Orig. Par. Sc.)
Such is the story of the “blazoning” of the Galley “For Lorne” on the shields of the Campbells of Argyle and Breadalbane.
1 The eldest married Glenorchy; the second, Sir Colin Campbell, first Earl of Argyll; the third, Arthur Campbell of Ottar.
2 Or as another authority says, an eighteen-merk land.
— Lord Archibald Campbell’s Records of Argyll (1885).
Borland and his men’s coming,
Cameron and M’Lean’s coming,
Gordon and M’Gregor’s coming,
Ilka Dunywastle’s coming. Little wat ye wha’s coming (ter).
M’Gillavry o’ Drumglass is coming.
Wigton’s coming, Nithsdale’s coming,
Carnwath’s coming. Kenmure’s coming,
Derwentwater and Foster’s coming,
Withrington and Nairn’s coming. Little wat ye wha’s coming (ter),
Blythe Cowhill and a’ coming.
The laird of McIntosh is coming,
McRabie and McDonald’s coming,
McKenzie and McPherson’s coming,
And the wild McCraw’s coming. Little wat ye wha’s coming (ter),
Donald Gun and a’s coming.
They gloom, they glour, they look sae big,
At ilka stroke they’ll fell a Whig:
They’ll fright the fuds of the Pockpuds,
For mony a buttock bare’s coming. Little wat ye wha’s coming (ter),
Jock and Tam and a’s coming.
— The Chevalier’s Muster-Roll, from David Herd’s “Ancient and Modern Scotish Songs,” Volume I, page 117, 1769, and James Hogg’s “Jacobite Relics,” Vol. I, N°90, 1819.
Coeffin Castle was built in the XIII century, probably by the MacDougalls of Lorn. Lismore was an important site within their lordship, being the location of St. Moluag’s Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Argyll. The first written evidence of the castle occurs in 1469–70, when it was granted to Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy by Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll.
The ruins comprise an oblong hall-house and an irregularly shaped bailey. The great hall is an irregular rectangle, measuring 67 by 34 ft. The walls are from 6 ft 10 in to 7 ft 10 in. thick. The bailey was for the most part built at a later date than the hall. An external stair probably linked the entrance, in the north-east wall, to the bailey. A second door gave access to the sea to the south-west.
Innis Chonnel was one of the earliest Campbell strongholds, certainly from as early as 1308 until the present day.
The massive walls of Innis Chonnel crown the rocky southwestern end of a small island half way down the eastern shore of Lochawe. The island and the adjacent shore are now heavily wooded, as they would not have been in the time when the castle was occupied. The trees screen the view of the island from the road and also screen the view of the castle down the loch from the north. The island runs northeast to southwest and is less than an hundred yards from shore.
In the first half of the XIII century, a square defensive structure of high stone walls about eight feet thick was built on solid rock on the southwestern end of the island. The wall enclosed a courtyard and had one or more square towers at the angles. In Norman fashion these were of very shallow projection and mainly served as reinforcing buttresses to the corners which faced the northwestern end of the island, the direction most vulnerable of attack. Within the enclosed courtyard, lean-to buildings of wood and thatch originally lined the walls, as at Castle Sween.
For the first 150 to 200 years after construction, Innis Chonnel appears to have remained much as it was when first built. During the first half of the XV century, most likely in the time of Duncan, first Lord Campbell, the whole castle was fundamentally remodelled.
The one existing stone building standing out from the original walls into the courtyard at the eastern corner was altered at ground level to provide a new adjacent gateway and was also extended upwards to provide more accommodation. A new tower was constructed at the southern corner and outside the original walls. Along the full length of the southwest side of the courtyard a new range was built with vaulted cellars and store rooms on the ground level and a spacious Great Hall above, likely with a roof of timber trusses. At one end the Hall adjoined a Chamber in the southern tower, and at the other, a pantry and Kitchen. Access was by an outside stair in the western corner of the courtyard. A hatch in the floor of the Chamber gave access to a dungeon. The Hall had a gallery over the pantry or ‘screens’. Heating for the Hall appears to have been by a central hearth as there is no evidence of a fireplace such as is found in the Kitchen and Chamber.
Northeast of the castle and outside the main entrance door, there is a ‘middle bailey’ or open entrance court which is similar in size to the plan of the castle itself. Beyond are the ruins of a Gatehouse, outside of which the defensive walls of the `outer bailey’ can still be discerned, skirting an oval plateau now clothed in trees.
The survey of the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments reports: “The castle has little recorded history. It was probably built by a founding member of the Campbell family on Loch Awe, of whose origins little is known prior to the appearance of Sir Colin (Mor) Campbell at the end of the 13th century. The castle itself was first specifically mentioned in October 1308, when it was being held by John of Lorne on behalf of Edward II (of England), but it was almost certainly one of three MacDougall castles mentioned, but not named, by John in a well-known letter written to Edward probably in the Spring of the same year.”
“Following the defeat of the MacDougalls, the Lordship of Loch Awe reverted to the Campbells, being confirmed in free barony to Sir Colin Campbell, son of Sir Neil Campbell, by Robert I (the Bruce) in 1315. Thereafter Innis Chonnel seems to have remained the chief stronghold of the family until the time of Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll (1453-93), who made Inveraray his principle residence.”
Despite the conclusion by historian David Sellar that the Cambels were ‘great territorial lords’ by the end of the XIII century, the question has been raised as to whether it was the ancestors of the Lochawe Cambels or the MacDougall Lords of Lorne who first built Innis Chonnel. The construction of such a massive fortification clearly required extensive resources.
The Cambel Lordship of Lochawe is said to have been based upon the northwestern shore of the loch about Kilchrenan. However their hosting-ground, presumably an indication of their earliest establishment, was on a point jutting into the western shore of the loch immediately opposite Innis Chonnel at Cruachan Lochawe. This place gave rise to the clan war cry “Cruachan!”
The relationship between the early Cambel ancestors and the (MacDougall) Lords of Argyll may well have been amicable initially. The killing of Sir Cailein Mor in 1296 may only have been the initiation of conflict. Certainly, as has been mentioned, the castle was in the hands of the MacDougalls by 1308, but whether it came into their hands following the death of Sir Cailein Mor at their hands in 1296 or was already in their possession is not clear.
There is some evidence that Fraoch Eilean castle at the northern end of Lochawe was a royal initiative started in 1250-75. Had the Cambel ancestors had such backing for the construction of Innis Chonnel, the resources needed could more easily have been found.
Sir Duncan Campbell who was Sir Cailein Mor’s great-great-great-grandson and the 1st Earl’s grandfather, was no doubt responsible for the extensive reconstruction and additions to the castle. He was raised to the peerage as first Lord Campbell in 1445 and died in 1453.
During the following two centuries, the Earls used Innis Chonnel as a place of confinement for political and criminal prisoners. The earliest recorded Captain was of the family of the MacArthurs of Tirevadich, but from 1613 the privilege passed to the Lorne MacLachlans. They survived until the early years of the last century when they still owned Craigenterve.
The castle is still owned privately by the Argyll family and is not open to the public. However it can be viewed from the shore road along the east side of the loch.
Castle Sween takes its name from Suibhne, who is thought to have built the castle. Suibhne is believed to have been a grandson of Hugh “the Splendid” O’Neill who died in 1047.
In the XIII century the Clan MacSween, or descendants of Suibhne, 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 XIII 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 took the wrong side, and when Robert the Bruce became King of Scots, 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 Mac Sween 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.
During the MacDonald’s century and a half of holding the castle, the castellans were first MacNeils and later MacMillans.
In 1490 Castle Sween was granted to Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll, by James IV of Scotland.
In 1647, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Castle Sween was attacked and burnt by Alasdair MacColla and his Irish Confederate followers.