Duntrune Castle

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Duntrune Castle
Duntrune Castle from the east
Coordinates56°06′04″N 5°33′01″W / 56.10114°N 5.55029°W / 56.10114; -5.55029Coordinates: 56°06′04″N 5°33′01″W / 56.10114°N 5.55029°W / 56.10114; -5.55029
Listed Building – Category B
Designated20 July 1971
Reference no.LB11496
Duntrune Castle is located in Argyll and Bute
Duntrune Castle
Location within Argyll and Bute

Duntrune Castle is located on the north side of Loch Crinan and across from the village of Crinan in Argyll, Scotland. It is thought to be the oldest continuously occupied castle on mainland Scotland.[1] The castle is a category B listed building.[2]


It was originally built by the MacDougall clan in the 13th century, along with several other castles in the area, including the MacDougall stronghold of Dunollie Castle near Oban. Duntrune Castle was eventually taken by the Clan Campbell. In the 17th century the castle was besieged by the rival MacDonalds, under Alasdair Mac Colla.[3] The Campbells sold Duntrune in 1792, to the Malcolms of Poltalloch. The castle is now owned by Robin Neill Malcolm, current clan chief of the Clan Malcolm.[4]

The curtain wall of the castle dates from the 13th century, although the tower house which forms the main part of the castle is of the 17th century.[3] The castle was renovated in 1954.[2]

The Piper Of Duntrune[edit]

The ghost of a handless piper is said to haunt the castle.[5] According to one story, the Macdonald piper was sent into the castle as a spy, but was found out. He was imprisoned, but played his pipes to warn the Macdonalds that their 'surprise' attack was now expected. Alasdair Mac Colla retreated, and the piper's hands were cut off by the Campbells.

According to another story, one more well known, the Macdonalds captured the castle. Mac Colla needed to return home and left a small garrison to defend the castle, with his personal piper among them. While he was away, the castle was recaptured by the Campbells and all the MacDonalds were killed, except the piper, who was spared because of his status. After retaking their castle the Campbells laid a trap for the Macdonalds.

As Mac Colla sailed returning to the castle he and his crew heard, as expected the piper playing a tune of welcome from the castle ramparts. As the MacDonald boat grew closer, the Macdonalds were able to discern the tune and recognised it as a warning. The small boat turned away and the trap failed. To punish the piper, his hands were cut off so that he may never play again.[6] The piper bled out and died of his injuries.

During a set of renovations at the castle, workers unearthed a handless human skeleton under a stone path, whose hands had been removed by clean cuts to the wrist. It is believed that this skeleton is that of the Piper Of Duntrune. There was evidence of an Episcopalian burial; many of the Highlanders serving the Royalist cause were Episcopalian at the time. The Campbells fought for the Covenanters, who were Presbyterian.

Popular culture[edit]

The gateposts of Skyfall lodge, James Bond's childhood home in the film of the same name, were modelled after those at Duntrune.[7]

A photograph of Dunstrune Castle is part of the original album inner sleeve art of the Blue Öyster Cult album Imaginos.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Duntrune Castle :: Historic Houses Association". Hha.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  2. ^ a b Historic Environment Scotland. "DUNTRUNE CASTLE BY LOCH CRINAN  (Category B) (LB11496)". Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Historic Environment Scotland. "Duntrune Castle (39147)". Canmore. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Duntrune Castle". Clan MacCallum - Malcolm Society of North America. Archived from the original on June 5, 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  5. ^ "The Union Democrat - Google News Archive Search".
  6. ^ Hamilton, John (10 January 2007). Haunted Places. ABDO. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-59928-768-3. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Chris Rogers writer architecture visual culture".

External links[edit]