Dunollie Castle, Argyll, Scotland - Part Two

Dunollie Castle as viewed from the ferry from Oban to Mull.

Last week, I posted Part 1 of Dunollie Castle. Now we're going to take a look at the interior.

The inside of the keep.
 During the Covenanter Wars, Cromwell's troops garrisoned the castle. The Marquis of Argyll captured the castle in 1644 but it was returned to the MacDougalls in 1661. During the 1700s, the Jacobites brought an end to Dunollie Castle as the clan's main residence. The castle was forfeit to the crown and fell into ruin. In 1745, a new house was built nearby, using stones from the castle, its buildings and courtyard. The house was completed in 1753.

 Since then, the castle has been repaired many times. The 12th century core is difficult to see because of later additions. Dunollie is architecturally and historically important and has features more common to Irish castles. The main tower is dated to 1450 and was restored in the late 16th century by Dougall and his son, Duncan. They were considered to be ruthless and ambitious chiefs. They also built Gylen Castle on Kerrera. The ruin has been repaired at various times, such as during the 1920s and again in 1976. There has also been a recent repair program.

The first and second floor. You can see where the wooden floor would've been supported.
A sign on the site reads: "In medieval times, there were no roads on land and travel was hard. Argyll was a great sea kingdom, and Dunollie commanded or observed the fleets of galleys which brought invaders and trade, brides and dowries, funeral processions out to Iona."

The only part of the West Range still standing.
The castle had an East and West Range outside the keep for such things as a great hall, kitchens, service quarters, guest rooms, etc.

A staircase set into the thickness of the wall leads from the ground floor to the first floor which would have been the Lord's Hall or living quarters. Originally, the main access to the first floor was probably an external wooden stairway or ladder which could've been pulled up or destroyed in times of danger or siege. The hall is now open to the sky but there originally there was a floor above this one for bedchambers for the chief and his family. When viewing the two levels of windows, you can visualize where the floor would've been.

Stairway and arrow slit window.

  A sign on the site reads: A glimpse of the life and hospitality of medieval Dunollie appears in an old story. "MacDougall of Lorn… kept a dining table that was called a public table where anyone might sit and take their meals. Anyone could go every day and eat their fill at the public table of MacDougall throughout the year, without being asked who they were, or what their name was."

The castle overlooks a narrow straight between the mainland and the island of Kerrera, which is also owned by the MacDougall Estate. From here, the inhabitants kept an eye on the galleys and ships entering Oban Bay. There is also a small grassy island called Maiden Island.

Maiden Island

Back of castle.

Thank you for taking a tour of Dunollie Castle with me! Next time, we'll visit the 1745 House.

Known for his wicked wit, fierce loyalty, and skills in battle, Robert "Rebbie" MacInnis, the Earl of Rebbinglen, loves freedom and has no plans of marrying anytime soon. But when his father, a powerful Scottish marquess, signs a contract betrothing Rebbie to an earl's young daughter, he is furious. If he has to marry, he's determined to choose his own bride, though he has no inkling who he would wish to wed until fate intervenes to remind him of one fair-haired, nameless beauty and the passionate night they spent together years ago. A night forever etched in his memory. 

Lady Calla Ferguson, a penniless widow with a young son, is forced to seek employment as her cousin's companion in order to pay her late husband's massive gambling debt. Having been ignored or mistreated most of her life, Calla has become a resourceful survivor who will stop at nothing to get what she wants—safety and security for her son and herself. Wealthy merchant, Claybourne cares little for the money the Earl of Stanbury owed him; he simply wants the earl's beautiful, voluptuous widow and he'll do whatever it takes to get his hands on her, even kidnapping and blackmail. 

When Rebbie happens upon Claybourne abducting Calla, he rescues her and hides her in a secluded castle deep in the wild Scottish Highlands. Calla conceals her passionate spirit beneath reserve and duty, along with closely-guarded secrets which, if exposed, could ruin both her life and her son's. Years ago, she lost her heart to a dark-eyed stranger she never thought to see again, but now he's her protector. Rebbie craves another pleasurable night like the one they shared in the past, and she cannot resist the fiery passion that echoes deep in her heart and soul. Soft but strong, Calla sparks within Rebbie a desperate hunger and a need to protect her. But will her secrets tear them apart? 

Excerpt from My Rebel Highlander
Though Calla delays as long as possible, she finally meets Rebbie again. Up to this point, they've had no opportunity to talk about the past or the night they shared. Rebbie is determined to change that.

The céilidh was underway and Calla sat at the high table while most of the others danced to the sprightly music. Angelique was dancing with Lachlan, although not as boisterously as some of the others. Their dance more resembled a moving embrace. Very romantic. She marveled at the love-match they shared.
"'Tis a lively céilidh, is it not?" Rebbie asked, seating himself in the chair beside her.
Heavens! Calla's whole body heated. "Aye," she responded, surprised she got the word out. Wondering where Elena was, she glanced back over the great hall and found her dancing with one of the young Drummagan clansmen.
"A lovely lady such as yourself… why are you not dancing?" Rebbie's deep brown eyes sparkled. "Surely a dozen men have asked you already."
She shook her head. "Nay." Was that all she could utter? One word responses? "I haven't danced in… ages."
"Ha. Don't expect me to believe that, but 'haps you would honor me with a dance?"
She swallowed hard, her heart pounding. "Oh." How could she get out of this without him thinking she was daft? "I'm certain Elena would be jealous if I took you up on that generous offer."
"I don't see why. She's danced with every male in the room. Besides—" He cleared his throat.
Calla peered at him, wondering if he was going to finish the sentence. But he looked annoyed and glared at the young lady in question. "You are her cousin?" he asked, his gaze turning friendlier when it met hers.
"Aye, and her chaperone."
"I see." He glanced around the room again, then faced her and said in a low voice. "I need to speak to you in private."
Panic rampaged through Calla and she could scarce breathe as she assessed Rebbie's obsidian gaze. Then, unable to withstand the force of it, she glanced away. How could this be happening to her? She should have known… any dishonesty on her part was bound to come back to nip at her heels.
"Please." Rebbie's voice was barely audible above the loud music.
She darted a quick glance at him to try to discern his thoughts, but his eyes were near impossible to read. He did not appear angry. Merely… interested? And intense.
"Very well," she said.
"Do you ken where the solar is?"
She nodded.
He stood and bowed, then headed toward the stairs.
Good heavens! What did he wish to talk about? That night they'd shared? She inhaled deeply, trying to dispel the jitters that had suddenly overtaken her entire body. Even her knees shook as she rose from her seat.
All will be well. He is not a cruel man. And he doesn't know…
At least, she hoped he wasn't cruel and vindictive like her late husband. Would Rebbie keep their secret if she asked him to?
After watching the dancers for a few moments to make certain Elena didn't notice her following Rebbie, she sedately strolled toward the stairs. Hopefully, they would think she was merely retiring for the night.
Her heart pounding, she ascended the steps and started down the dim corridor, lit here and there by a candle sconce. Walking as slowly as she could, she tried to calm herself as she approached the solar. The door was open and, inside, several candles burned along with a low fire in the hearth. A dark form in his black clothing, Rebbie stood before it, gazing into the flames, his hand propped on the mantel.
She stepped across the threshold and halted, knowing not what to say.
He turned. "Lady Stanbury, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Please, come in." His businesslike tone helped her relax marginally. Maybe he wouldn't get too personal after all. Moving toward her, he motioned to the hearth, then bypassed her and closed the door. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Nay." Saints! Her heart-rate doubled. Was it fear or excitement? Maybe a little of both.
"Come. Have a seat." He took her hand and drew her to the chairs near the hearth. He wore no gloves, and she perversely wished she didn't either. From somewhere deep in her soul, she craved the warm touch of his skin—something she hadn't felt in a very long time.
Once they were seated, she thought he would speak, but he didn't. Instead, he picked up the poker and stirred the fire's coals, then added two pieces of wood. The fire popped and crackled, burning a bit brighter.
Her stomach ached with frayed nerves.
He set the metal poker aside and glanced at her briefly. "I remember that night," he said in a low, deep voice.
Her breath stopped and heat rushed over her. "Pray pardon, I—"
"Nay." He held up a hand. "Why on earth would you apologize? 'Twas me who was a rogue and a scoundrel."
"Nay, you were not." She knew he'd said that because he was a charming gentleman, for she was the one who'd approached him.
She'd told him she was a widow back then. A lie. She squeezed her eyes shut. He could easily learn her husband died a mere five months ago.
"Anyway. 'Tis our secret," he murmured.
She glanced at him. A hint of a sincere smile softened his sensual mouth. Was it too much to hope for… that he would keep their secret? With fathomless eyes, he studied her, waiting for her response. He could've easily taken advantage of her, forcing her to warm his bed in exchange for his silence, but thankfully he didn't appear to be that sort of man.
"I thank you," she said. "I never imagined… that I would see you again."
"You hoped you wouldn't, aye?" He lifted a brow, looking none too pleased about that.
It wasn't that she didn't want to see him again, for she certainly did, dreamed of it every night, but…. She shrugged. "Under the circumstances—"
"And what were the circumstances?"
She bit her lip. Could she tell him the truth, that she had been married at the time? And that she was an adulteress? Although, not by her own choice. Shame consumed her.
"You don't wish to say." His voice gentled. "I understand. 'Tis far different for a woman than for a man."
"So, 'twas not something you did often?"
Calla's shocked gaze flew to Rebbie. "Nay. Of course not."
"I meant no offense." He could easily tell by her words and actions she was not very experienced at seducing men, then or now. She blushed almost as much as a virgin, for heaven's sake. If she were a practiced seductress, she would be all over him now, wouldn't she? Instead, she would rarely meet his gaze. 'Twas obvious she was mortified that he remembered the night they'd spent together.
He almost wished she would do something. Smile at him, touch his arm. Anything. He wanted to see a glimpse of the lass he'd shared a pleasurable night of unbridled passion with. He remembered the joy in her eyes and her smile.
Memories from that night had taunted him all day and now they flooded his mind. He recalled that her actions had told him she wasn't very experienced. Of course, she hadn't been a virgin. No widows were, unless their elderly husbands had been unable to perform. But 'twas obvious to him Calla had never experienced a bedding like the one he gave her. She had not truly even known how to kiss before he'd shown her.
He'd been in his early twenties at the time and bedsport had been one of his favorite pastimes. There was no way in hades he would've refused such a beautiful lady. Aye, he'd known she was a lady, but a countess? He hadn't imagined.
"I know what you must think of me," she whispered, refusing to look at him. "But, nay, I had not done that before." She shook her head. "You have no idea how embarrassed I am right now."
"There's no need to be. I won't be telling anyone." Of course, he'd already told Lachlan, but he wouldn't breathe a word about it. "I would never think badly of you. 'Twas just one of those things that happens when two lonely people get together." Or in his case, sotted on whisky. He was rarely lonely, but mayhap she had been. And if so, he was glad he'd been there for her. "I don't regret it. And I hope you don't."
She studied him for a longer moment. "Nay."
"Good." He observed her, unsure what was going through her mind, but feeling somehow that maybe she was starting to trust him a wee bit. "I hope you don't feel I took advantage of you in a… fragile state."
"Nay. Of course not. I blame myself."
"There is no blame. 'Twas a memorable night and I have to admit, I think of it sometimes."
The color of her face deepened in the firelight and she again refused to look at him.
"Do you?"


Vanessa Holland said...

What an amazing place. I love the views. Thanks for posting!

Mary Morgan said...

What a view they had, Vonda. Thank you for another great post and pictures.

Gwyn Brodie said...

Loved the post, Vonda! Can't wait to see the photos of the house! I miss Scotland!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Vanessa, thanks for checking it out! The castle does have incredible views.

Mary, thank you! So glad you liked it.

Gwyn, thanks! The house is filled with a huge amount of history. You would love it. I miss Scotland too.

Gerri Bowen said...

You have the best photos, Vonda. I love these blog posts!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks so much, Gerri! So glad you like them.

Collette Cameron said...

I love the pictures, Vonda. Thanks so much for sharing!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Your photography skills never cease to amaze me, Vonda. Gorgeous photos as usual. I am glad I find time now and then to get on a post. Still unpacking, but I can see and end to it...just finding the right place to put all the stuff is daunting.


Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, Collette! Glad you like them! :)

Vonda Sinclair said...

Paisley, thank you! I'm glad you like the photos. I love taking them. I hope you're finished unpacking soon and it isn't too hard. Remember to rest and take care of yourself! Huggles to you too!!