Clan Maclean is a notable and influential clan in Scotland’s history, and their home sits on the humble Isle of Mull at Duart Castle. This stalwart Castle stands as a bastion on guard of Isle of Mull’s sea cliffs and is a beautiful attraction to visit. If you’re interested in finding the top castles in Western Scotland, then Duart Castle is only a short ferry trip away.
We’ll be breaking down the history of Duart Castle, how to get there, and the top attractions to see while you’re there.
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History of Duart Castle
Duart Castle’s history started in the 14th century when it was built atop the remote Black Point as a stronghold for generations of Clan Maclean members. Black Point has been a historic location for structures even before Duart Castle, and it is said there was a prehistoric fortification that Duart Castle was built on. Duart Castle started with huge curtain walls, and Lachlan Lubanach Maclean transformed the site into a stone castle around 1370.
Duart Castle endured a turbulent past during the 1520s when Lachlan Cattanach tied his wife, Margaret Campbell, to a rock so the channel tide could drown her. Luckily, some passing fisherman heard and rescued her. She returned to the Duart Castle and awaited her Lachlan’s return as if nothing had happened. Clan Campbell, however, was naturally unhappy with the attempted murder of one of their own and killed Lachlan Cattanach in his bed in 1527. The stone that Margaret Campbell was tied to is now known as Lady’s Rock, which can still be seen from Duart Castle today.
Throughout the 1600s, Clan Maclean were vassals to the Lord of the Isles but were forced to swear loyalty to James VI after the Clan chief was kidnapped. In the mid-1600s, General Leslie and Oliver Cromwell besieged the ancestral home twice – once successfully and once unsuccessfully. And then, in 1691, Duart Castle finally fell from Campbell bombardment, a final act from the Clan’s longtime enemies.
Duart Castle was restored by Sir Fitzroy Maclean in 1911, transforming their castle grounds into the home of Clan Maclean once more. Today, the Castle is one of the best places to visit for fans of Scottish history – It is one of Scotland’s oldest clan homes.
How to Get to Duart Castle
Duart Castle sits on the Isle of Mull and is easily accessible once you reach the Isle. But those still determining which route to take will be happy to know that the West Coast of Scotland is filled with ferry ships that lead to Duart Castle. Oban is one of the most popular places to catch a ferry, which has ferry routes to Craignure, Bailemeonach, Tobermory, and more.
From the Isle of Mull, driving down the A849 along the east coast of the Isle will lead you right to Duart Point. Entrance into Duart Castle costs £4 per ticket, a bargain for how many attractions you can enjoy here.
Attractions at Duart Castle
Duart Castle offers fantastic attractions that make a trip here well worth it. From the spectacular sea views and intricate history of the Maclean clan, here’s what you should aim to complete while visiting Duart Castle.
Explore Duart Castle
Duart Castle and the surrounding Castle courtyard are perfect for exploring. As you enter Duart Castle, watch for the stone clan crest overhead. The crest has clan words that mean “Virtue. Mine. Honour”, depicting a stone tower.
Within the Castle itself, you can see the magnificent banqueting hall, where Clan Maclean would celebrate their victories and host members of other clans. The quaint Edwardian state rooms are also deeper within this ancient keep, with plenty of period furnishings to immerse you in the history of one of Scotland’s oldest clans.
From there, the ghostly dungeons and battlements are superb, and getting lost in the experience for at least a few hours is easy. Walking along the ramparts gives you breathtaking views of the Sound of Mull and Loch Linnhe.
Shop at the Macleans of Duart Gift Shop
Want a souvenir or memoir to remember your trip by? Stop by the Duart Gift Shop! Sir Lachlan Maclean hand-picked all the items at this gift shop, particularly on Clan Maclean. You can pick up jewellery, history books about Clan Maclean, clothing, maps, and photographs of the Castle.
When you stop by the Duart Gift Shop, take a unique gift back home to your friends and families.
Enjoy Duart Castle’s Outdoor Theatre
There’s a lot to look forward to when visiting Duart Castle during the summer months. Newly engaged couples will be happy to know that Duart Castle is a regular wedding venue if you want to hear the wedding bells toll at one of the most historic castles in Scotland.
Events that regularly take place here are the Outdoor Theatre, where Scottish pipers and Highland dancers show off their skill and pride. Scottish Highlands music set a beautiful atmosphere, along with homemade food, military re-enactments, and other shows.
Walk Through Millennium Wood
While exploring the grounds around Duart Castle, add the Millennium Wood and Duart Point to your to-do list. This peninsula can be walked on foot, giving the best views of the Sound of Mull and the west coast.
A beautiful blossoming rowan tree can be seen sitting in the castle courtyard before venturing out to Duart Point. It’s ripe for a picnic!
If you want to cap off your day of exploring Duart Castle, enjoy a spot of tea at the Duart Tearoom. This tearoom offers Isle of Mull cheeses, home baking, and other locally sourced produce for you to enjoy as you sip tea.
The Tearoom has a range of options that appeal to all dietary requirements, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
Spot Popular Film Locations
One of the unique positions that Duart Castle has occupied is a famous filming location for movies you may already know and love! Film buffs who’ve watched “Entrapment” starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones may recognise Duart Castle as the prominent Castle for that film.
Anthony Hopkins fans will recognise this solid keep from the movie “When Eight Bells Toll”, so keep your eyes out for the major scenes that have taken place on the island.