Kilchurn Castle

The morning mist hovers over Loch Awe, and across the lake, on the northeastern edge, Kilchurn Castle and the mountains beyond reflect in the still waters, transporting visitors back to a time when the Campbells of Glenorchy ruled this region. All that stands today are the castle ruins, but Kilchurn was once the site of a great fortress, a testament to the power and wealth of the Campbells (later to be known as the Breadalbane family).

Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy constructed the original keep in the mid-15th century, and at the time, the castle stood on an island. Today, Kilchurn sits on a peninsula surrounded by water and marsh; the water level of the lake was lowered sometime in the 19th century, creating a causeway out to the island. Over the centuries, the Campbells added additional buildings, towers, and walls to the castle complex.

The entrance to the keep is located along the north wall, on the ground floor, with stairs to the upper stories on the opposite corner of that floor. Bedrooms are located on each side of the stairwell at the east end of the keep. Adjacent to the keep are a storeroom and a kitchen, and beyond that is the courtyard surrounded by walls and flanking towers.

After 400 years, the castle outlived its usefulness: the Campbells had finally defeated their hated rivals the McGregors, and they had pacified the surrounding Highland clans. The family moved to Taymouth Castle in Perthshire, leaving Kilchurn to age beneath the Scottish sun, weathered by rain and wind and snow and time.

Photos of Kilchurn Castle


“Kilchurn Castle.” (accessed July 7, 2009).

“Kilchurn Castle.”  Historic Scotland. (accessed July 7, 2009).

MacGibbon, David. The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth century. Mercat Press, 1977.

2 thoughts on “Kilchurn Castle”

  1. Beautiful photos, and a fascinating history, of which (I think) I’ve read some in Sir Walter Scott’s forward to Rob Roy. I would go and read it again to check, but the book was lost a few years ago. I need to buy it again!

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