Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel

Trace the rich and colorful history of this ruined 13th-century fortress, the site of heroic battles, royal residences and political imprisonments.

Picture yourself defending Scotland from invaders arriving from the sea or as a government soldier quashing rebellions in the impressive remains of Dunstaffnage Castle. This medieval fortification still has many intact walls and towers and provides an insightful window into Scotland's military past. Its tactical location also provides spectacular views out to sea and the Western Isles.

The oldest parts of the castle, including the curtain wall, were built about 1220 as a fortification to protect the western coast of Scotland. Because of its tactical location, the government garrisoned it during the Jacobite uprisings of the 18th century and used the newer buildings as a prison for the rebels. Walk along the top of the curtain wall, one of the oldest standing castle remains in Scotland. Once a strategic defensive construction, it now serves as the perfect viewpoint for panoramas of the Firth of Lorn.

Behind the walls are the remains of the “new house,” a residential building that doubled as a prison. The much-loved Scottish heroine Flora MacDonald was captured and held here after aiding Bonnie Prince Charlie's successful escape following his defeat in a Jacobite rebellion.

Step into the gatehouse, a three-story building from the early 16th century. The honorary Captain of Dunstaffnage still uses the building as headquarters today, although it is open to the public.

In the visitor center, examine a scale model depicting how the castle would have looked originally. Information boards tell the story of the castle and the factions who competed to control it, including famous Scottish King Robert the Bruce.

Wander through the wooded grounds to find Dunstaffnage Chapel, the ruins of a 13th-century church that fell into disuse after the Protestant Reformation. An adjacent burial aisle houses monuments to the noble families of Dunstaffnage.

Dunstaffnage Castle is open year-round, with closures on Thursdays and Fridays during winter. Ride a bus from Oban to Dunstaffnage College, which is just a 6-minute walk from the castle. The attraction has on-site parking, a café and shop.

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