Duart Castle -Sentinel of Mull

Duart Castle stands guard on the east coast of the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. The name Duart is derived from the Gaelic words "Dubh Ard" (black point). It stands on a crag at the end of the peninsula, jutting out into the Sound of Mull, just where the Sound of Mull, Loch Linne and the Firth of Lorne meet.

The original Duart Castle dates from the 13th century and was probably built for the MacDougalls. In the late 14th century, it became the seat of the MacLean Clan when Lachlan Lubanach, the 5th Chief, married Mary Macdonald, the daughter of the Lord of the Isles. She brought Duart as her dowry and thus the landholding of the Macleans on Mull increased. He built a rectangular tower with wall enclosing a courtyard outside the original curtain wall. It formed an integral part of the original fort.

In the mid 17th century small vaulted cellars were built with a hall at first floor level and a small chamber above, were built within the courtyard. A two story gatehouse reinforced the defense of the entrance to the courtyard. In 1691 the Macleans surrendered Duart Castle and all their lands on Mull to the Duke of Argyll. They left the castle during the Jacobite rebellion and retreated to the Treshnish Isles. Government troops then occupied the castle till 1751 and left it in a dilapidated condition.

It was abandoned until 1910 when it was purchased by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 26th Chief. He set about the daunting task of restoring the castle though some details from the original castle were lost. In 1991 Sir Lachlan Maclean, the present Clan Chief started repairs on the castle. The main repairs were completed in 1995, but work still continues.

Duart Castle is open to the public and houses MacLean memorabilia. You can visit the Banqueting Hall, the Sea Room and various state rooms. Upstairs one can view the story of the MacLean chiefs. Dummy prisoners from the Spanish Armada are kept in the dungeon. In January 2000 Sir Lachlan planted the Millennium Wood, a collection of trees and shrubs indigenous to Argyll.

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