Dunstaffnage Castle, nr Oban

Dunstaffnage Castle, nr Oban, Scotland

This evening, my focus is on Dunstaffnage, an impressive military fortification on the west of Scotland near Oban.

This unusual name is derived from the Old Norse stafr meaning staff. Dun=fort so the word translates as ‘fort on the staff ness’.

There has probably been a fortress here, at the mouth of Loch Etive for over 1500 years. The site has associations with the early Scots who came from Ireland and the famous Stone of Destiny (crowning place of Scottish kings) may have been housed here after initial transfer from Ireland.

The substance of the castle structure has remained unchanged for 700 years. It has been expertly moulded to fit the foundation Old Red Conglomerate rock on which it sits with walls rising in places to 60 ft in height.

Originally, the castle was a MacDougall stronghold but this Clan lost control after supporting the wrong side during the Wars of Independence. Thereafter the castle was under control of the Stewarts and then Campbells of Argyll in 1470.

Dunstaffnage was abandoned in fairly recent times, 1810 but to this day the Campbell Captain spends at least one night each year in the Gatehouse as a symbol of the historic connection.

I can fully recommend a visit to Dunstaffnage when in the Oban area. The castle is under the care of Historic Scotland.