Castle Stalker – Mystery and Murder

Twenty-five miles from Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, Castle Stalker stands at the mouth of Loch Laich. It is near Loch Linnhe, on a rocky islet known as the Rock of the Cormorants. Its Gaelic name Stalcaire, means falconer or hunter and it has had a long history of violence, particularly murder of its owners, associated with it. Right from Lord of Lorn, Sir John Stewart, who built the castle in its present form in the 1440s, and was murdered in1463, till the Governor of Sarawak, Duncan Stewart who owned the castle when he was murdered in 1947, many of the owners have had violent deaths.

The castle was built on the site of a fortalice that was built in1330s by the then Lords of the Lorn, MacDougall. In1388, the Lordship of Lorn and its properties including Castle Stalker, went to the Stewarts. The first Stewart Lord, Sir John, who had an illegitimate son, Dugald was murdered just as he was getting married to the lad’s mother.

Castle Stalker passed on to Dugald who became the first Chief of Appin. King James IV was a cousin of the Stewarts and he often stayed at Castle Stalker on hunting trips. It is believed that the castle underwent some renovations at that time. The top floor was added and the Royal Coat of Arms adorned the front entrance. After Dugald’s murder in 1497, his son Duncan took over the title and castle. He was murdered too and the violence associated with Stalker continued.

In 1620 the Castle was gambled away by the 7th Stewart Chief, Duncan to the Campbells of Airds. It was regained by Stewart Ardsheal in 1689 but was forfeited to the Campbells after defeat at the battle of Dunkeld. From 1746 the Castle was used by the Government as a place to surrender arms by clansmen. Campbells occupied the castle until 1800 when they moved to Airds. The castle was a storehouse till its roof fell in 1840 and it was abandoned.

In 1908, Charles Stewart of Achara purchased the castle and conducted basic preservation work to stop its deterioration. In 1965 Lt. Col. D. R. Stewart Allward purchased the Castle and spent the next ten years restoring it. Castle Stalker was used as a location for filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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