Dunstaffnage Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles. It was once the mighty stronghold of the MacDougalls, built before 1240 on a huge rock above the Firth of Lorn near Oban.
Scott visited Dunstaffnage while sailing around Scotland in summer 1814.
Though he marvelled at the castle's ancient history, Scott found the ruins in poor repair.
Listen to 'Extreme Antiquity'
Listen to Walter Scott’s wish that more be done to preserve Dunstaffnage Castle, when he visited in 1814.
Read 'Extreme Antiquity'
Tacking to the shore of the loch, we land at Dunstaffnage – once, it is said, the seat of the Scottish monarchy till success over the Picts and Saxons transferred their throne to Scoone, Dunfermline and, at length, to Edinburgh…
The shell of the castle, for little more now remains, bears marks of extreme antiquity…
You pass under an ancient arch with a low vault (being the porter’s lodge) on the right hand and flanked by loop-holes, for firing upon any hostile guest who might force his passage thus far. This admits you into the inner court, which is about eighty feet square. It contains two mean-looking buildings, about sixty or seventy years old; the ancient castle having been consumed by fire in 1715.
It is said that the nephew of the proprietor was the incendiary. We went into the apartment and found they did not exceed the promise of the exterior; but they admitted us onto the battlements of the old castle, which displayed a most splendid prospect…
The ancient masonry of Dunstaffnage is mouldering fast under time and neglect. The foundations are beginning to decay and exhibit gaps between the rock and wall and the battlements are become ruinous. The inner court is encumbered with ruins. A hundred pounds or two would put this very ancient fort in a state of preservation for ages, but I fear this is not to be expected.
Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years
In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.
'Extreme Antiquity' has been performed by Edinburgh actor Gavin Paul, who is looking forward to visiting some of these important historical sights.