Dunaverty Castle

Dunaverty Castle is a castle at Southend, Kintyre in Scotland and was once a fort belonging to the Clan Donald or MacDonald.


The remains of Dunaverty Castle stand on a rocky head land on the south east corner of Kintyre, Scotland. The headland it was built on forms a natural stronghold with the sea on three sides and is only approachable from the north. It is attached to the mainland only by a narrow path. It is known that the castle itself was accessed by a drawbridge.

13th Century

In 1248 King Henry of England allowed Walter Bissett to buy stores from Ireland for Dunaverty Castle which he had seizes and was fortifying, apparently in revenge for hospitality given by King Alexander II of Scotland to certain English pirates. However during that same year the castle was taken by Allan, the son of the Earl of Atholl and Bissett was taken prisoner.

In 1263 Dunaverty Castle was garrisoned by King Alexander III of Scotland during the Norse invasion by King Haakon IV of Norway. The castle was eventually surrendered to the Norwegian King. Eventually the Norwegian King gave the castle to Dugall MacRuairi the founder of Clan MacDougall. Dugall or Dougall was the grandson of Ranald who was in turn the son of the rival Scottish King Somerled the ancestor of all MacDonalds and MacDougalls. The castle is believed to have soon become property of Alexander MacDonald of Isla.

14th century

It is believed that King Robert I of Scotland also known as Robert the Bruce escaped his enemies by sailing down the Firth of Clyde until he reached safety at Dunaverty Castle. There he spent several days hospitably entertained by Angus Og of Islay. The King of Scotland however soon needed to flee to Rathlin Island off the coast of Ireland in order to escape the pursuing English fleet. On the 22nd of September 1306 the English King ordered the employment of miners, crossbowmen and masons in the siege of Dunaverty Castle which was soon surrendered.

15th Century

In 1493 the fourth and last Lord of the Isles forfeited his title to King James IV of Scotland. By 1494 the King had garrisoned and provisioned Dunaverty Castle. It is said that the MacDonalds led by Sir John MacDonald, who the king had recently knighted, retook the castle before the King had even departed to Stirling and that the dead body of the King's castle governor was hung over the castle walls in sight of the King and his departing entourage. Sir John Macdonald however was later captured by MacIain of Ardnamurchan. He was tried and hung on the Burgh Muir.

16th Century

The castle was repaired by the crown between 1539 and 1542. In January 1544, a Commission in Queen Mary's name was given to the Captain, Constable and Keeper of the Castle of Dunaverty, to deliver it with its artillery and ammunition to the Earl of Argyll and in April of that year Argyll received a 12-year tack of North and South Kintyre, including the Castle. The castle was attacked by the Earl of Surrey in 1588 but no damage was done.

17th Century

In 1626, the Lordship of Kintyre was reconstituted in favour of the Earl of Argyll and Dunaverty Castle was denoted as its principal message. Argyll bestowed the Lordship of Kintyre on James, his eldest son by his second marriage, who, in 1635, at Dunaverty, granted a charter of the Lordship to Viscount Dunluce, eldest son of the first Earl of Antrim but the transfer was set aside by the Scottish Privy Council, no doubt on a complaint by Argyll's eldest son, the Marquis of Lorn, who had bitterly resented his father's bestowal of the Lordship on his younger half-brother. On 12th December 1636, Lom received a charter, under the Great Seal, of the Lordship of Kintyre, with the Castle of Dunaverty as its principal message During the Civil War it was besieged in 1647 by Scottish supporters of Oliver Cromwell who were led by General David Leslie from Clan Leslie (Leslie later became a Royalist). The MacDonalds surrendered and then 300 of them were massacred. The castle is nothing more than a ruin now, known as Blood Rock. This incident became known as the Dunaverty Massacre.

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