|On the Ferry
The day we visited Isle of Mull and Duart Castle was cloudy and windy. Based on the forecast, we knew the weather would only get worse, so this was our last chance to visit the island. Sure enough, the next day no ferries were running out to the islands at all because of insane winds. We parked in Oban and bought a ticket which included the ferry, bus, and castle tours all in one.
|beautiful views from the ferry
|You can tell by this picture how cold it was. Everyone was dressed like winter even though it was September.
|Lismore Lighthouse in the Sound of Mull
Click on the above photo to enlarge it and get a good view of the Sound of Mull. I did have to bundle up and venture outside to take some pics myself. I took several of Duart Castle as we passed by. Little did I know at the time that we would explore Duart from the ramparts to the grassy area near the shore.
Duart Castle stands prominently on a cliff that overlooks the Sound of Mull. This has been the base of the Clan Maclean for over 600 years.
|Approaching Duart Castle from the parking area.
We entered the courtyard and I thought the interior and buildings were beautiful. This castle was restored in the early 1900s, but these buildings look incredibly authentic for hundreds of years ago. The rowan tree here (above) was planted on Sir Fitzroy Maclean's 100th birthday. It's believed to ward off evil.
|The Courtyard, opposite direction.
|Click photo to enlarge sign.
"About 1150 Duart was just a courtyard. No grass then, only mud and rocks and simple wooden shacks for shelter. You would have had no shoes or socks, even in winter; long hair, no brushes or combs and your clothes would be a simple strip of woolen cloth to keep you warm."
"The Keep, which is another name for a Tower House, is where everyone lived. This one was built by Lachlan Lubanach, the 5th Chief, in 1360. The main entrance was up a short flight of stairs from the courtyard."
Next, we went by the kitchen and dungeon. Sorry, no photos were allowed of the interior. The ground floor of the castle was originally one vaulted room with two small windows.
|View out one of the windows.
Experts believe a castle existed on this site long before the first walls of Duart were constructed in the mid-1200s because it is such a strategic position on a high cliff on the end of a peninsula which juts into the Sound of Mull. Duart comes from the Gaelic Dubh Ard, meaning 'Black Point'. This location allowed the Macleans to control the Sound of Mull, which runs between Mull and the mainland of Scotland, and also the entrances to Loch Linne and Loch Etive and also part of the Firth of Lorn. This site would've been of vital importance during Viking and Norse invasions. Later, the Lord of the Isles ruled this area and the Macleans were supporters. There were eight castles on each side of the Sound of Mull which could communicate with one another via a beacon.
|Click the above photo to enlarge
Macleans were recorded in the papal dispensation of 1367 which allowed their chief, Lachlan Lubanach (the crafty or cunning) Maclean to marry the daughter of the Lord of the Isles, Mary Macdonald. It is said this was a love match, but her father wouldn't allow her to marry Maclean until he had kidnapped her. Another account says Lachlan kidnapped the Lord of the Isles in order to marry his daughter. The Mackinnon Chief was killed during this incident, and since Macdonald was Lord of the Isles, he gave the Mackinnon land to Maclean as part of his daughter's dowry. It is said he approved of Lachlan as a husband for his daughter because of his daring during the kidnapping. This is how the Macleans ended up owning most of Mull.
|Click the above photo to enlarge and see the great view from the wall walk or battlements.
|The wall walk
Lachlan Lubanach's son was Red Hector of the Battles. He was a famous Maclean warrior who fought at the Battle of Harlaw on July 24, 1411. I mentioned him in my post on Drum Castle. Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum and Red Hector MacLean engaged in a one on one personal battle to the death. Yes, both men died. I wonder what they had against each other? Afterward, their families exchanged swords when their chiefs met.
Hope you enjoyed the photos and info. I'll continue the tour of Duart next time.
Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn't who everyone thinks he is. He's Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time?
Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother's order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety.
Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man's bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.