Dumbarton Castle and Dumbarton Rock, Scotland

This evening, I am focusing on Dumbarton Castle which is located on the Firth of Clyde in S.W. Scotland. This site has a very long history as power base and fortification, possibly dating back about 1600 years when it was the capital of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, a Brythonic (Welsh) speaking  kingdom covering southern Scotland and northern England. In fact Dumbarton Castle has the longest recorded history as a fortification. The name Dumbarton is derived from the Gaelic  dun breatainn which means ‘Fort of the Britons’.

The natural defences illustrated below are a function of the remains of a volcano dating from about 330-340m years ago. In the foreground is the River Leven which flows from Loch Lomond to the Firth of Clyde.

Dumbarton Castle, Scotland

A summary chronology of Dumbarton Rock is as follows:

  • Captured by the Vikings in AD 870 with garrison taken off and sold into slavery.
  • Captured by the Scots from the Northumbrians in 1018 after the Battle of Carham.
  • Played key strategic role in Scotland’s victory over the Norse at Largs in 1263.
  • Captured by the English in 1296. William Wallace ( ‘Braveheart’) may have been held prisoner here before being transported to London.
  • Attacked by Scotland’s King James IV in 1489 when controlled by the Darnleys.
  • Held out for Mary Queen of Scots in 1568.
  • Captured by Thomas Crawford in 1571 on behalf of the Scottish authorities (protestants).
  • Between the 16th and early 19th centuries there was on on-going programme of fortification including installation of gun batteries, many of which still exist.
  • The castle was also used to house prisoners taken during the Jacobite and Napoleonic conflicts.
  • Queen Victoria visited in 1847.
  • Re-armed during WW2 with an anti-aircraft defences and experienced a bomb attack in 1941.
  • Now a visitor attraction which affords superb views over the Clyde and north towards Ben Lomond and the Trossachs. Popular with bird watchers.

View towards Dumbarton.

Gun Battery Overlooking Clyde at Dumbarton

French Prison at Dumbarton Castle, Scotland

Bird Watchers at Dumbarton Castle, Scotland

An interesting site which I visit about twice each year.

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