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Photographer's Note

This was taken on a wet, drizzly and misty February day two years ago, looking north across Loch Awe from its southeast side towards Kilchurn Castle which sits on a spit of land protruding into the loch on its northeast side. I was standing ankle-deep in mud and bog and you can see my location if you click on Map:view.

Kilchurn Castle (pronounced in Scotland as "Kil-hurn") was the ancestral home of the Campbells of Glen Orchy, who later became the Earls of Breadalbane, also known as the Breadalbane family branch of the Clan Campbell. The earliest construction on the castle was the towerhouse and Laich Hall (which looks here onto Loch Awe). Today, its picturesque setting and romantic state of decay apparently make it one of the most photographed structures in Scotland. But this was the first time that I can actually recall having seen it although I must have passed it on several occasions in the past and have certainly seen other photographs of it.

It is quite common to find a castle that started life as a stronghold before being converted over the years to first a comfortable, then a showcase, home: or which was abandoned in favour of a nearby fine house when the struggle of conversion became too much trouble and defence was no longer a priority.

But Kilchurn Castle evolved in a slightly different way. It was built in about 1450 by Sir Colin Campbell, first Lord of Glenorchy, and it started life as a five storey tower house with a courtyard defended by an outer wall. By about 1500 an additional range and a hall had been added to the south side of the castle. Further buildings went up during the 1500s and 1600s.

Not often appreciated today is that when built, Kilchurn was on a small island in Loch Awe scarcely larger than the castle itself. Most sources suggest it was accessed via an underwater or low lying causeway.

Kilchurn's development started to take an unusual turn in 1681. In that year, Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy was made first Earl of Breadalbane. His aim by 1689 was to take advantage of the turbulence that saw William and Mary become joint sovereigns. To this end he spent much of the 1690s converting Kilchurn Castle into a modern barracks capable of housing 200 troops. This saw the addition of a three storey L-shaped block along the north side of the castle.

By 1698 the Government had begun to convert Fort William into a stone fort from the wooden structure that had been placed at the head of Loch Linnhe in 1690. Whatever Sir John Campbell's real intentions in converting Kilchurn Castle, they were overtaken by the establishment of Fort William.

The Castle was used as a Government garrison during the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite Rebellions: but the family's efforts to sell it to the Government were unsuccessful. They left in 1740 and moved to Taymouth Castle in eastern Scotland, to spend their time developing their Perthshire estates. In 1760 the castle was badly damaged by lightning and was completely abandoned. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland.

You can see a larger version of this picture here.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1245 W: 390 N: 4534] (18286)
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