Dunyvaig Castle

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Ruins of Dunyvaig Castle

Dunyvaig Castle, (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Naomhaig, Anglicised Fort of the galleys, also known as Dunnyveg)[1] is located on the south side of Islay, in Argyll, Scotland, on the shore of Lagavulin Bay, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Port Ellen.[1] The castle was once a naval base of the Lord of the Isles, chiefs of Clan Donald. It was held by the chiefs of the Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg.


12th century[edit]

A castle was built on top of a fort or dun.

15th and 16th centuries[edit]

Forfeited in 1493, the castle passed to the MacIans of Ardnamurchan.[2]. The MacIans were a cadet branch of the MacDonalds, and suffered when that clan was punished for the 1501-1506 insurrection of Black Donald; the castle was transferred to a branch of the Campbells. In 1545, however, the MacDonald holdings in Islay and Jura were restored to them.[2]

17th century[edit]

Surrendered to Andrew Stuart, 3rd Lord Ochiltree and a royal force in 1608 by Angus MacDonald, 8th of Dunnyveg and garrisoned with royal troops with the constable Andrew Knox. In 1614, the castle was taken by Ranald Og MacDonald, however was retaken by Angus Og MacDonald, who attempted to bargain the castle's surrender. Knox attempted to retake the castle and was defeated and compelled to retreat. Knox left his son Thomas and his nephew John Knox of Ranfurly as hostages for his good faith. The hostages were freed by John Graham and on 6 January 1615, Sir John Campbell of Calder, with the assistance of Sir Oliver Lambart who brought artillery and men in the Phoenix,[3] retook the castle. Lambert captured 22 men while 22 others including Coll Ciotach escaped from a postern gate into a longboat.[4]

The castle was seized in 1647 by the Covenanters and passed into the hands of the Campbells of Cawdor, who held it until 1677, when Sir Hugh Campbell pulled down the castle and moved to Islay House.[2]


Today all that remains of the castle are mainly the ruins of the sixteenth-century castle, although the site includes a thirteenth-century courtyard, and a fifteenth-century keep.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Dunyvaig Castle". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dunyvaig Castle, Islay". Am Baile Highland History & Culture. The Highland Council. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  3. ^ The Melros Papers vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1837), pp. 597-605.
  4. ^ Trevelyan Papers, vol. 3 (London, 1872), 132, 136-7.: D. Gregory, History of the Western Highlands (Edinburgh, 1836), 362-5.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°38′01″N 6°07′23″W / 55.63361°N 6.12306°W / 55.63361; -6.12306