Photographer's Note

Kilchurn Castle (pronounced in Scotland as "Kil-hurn") lies on an outcrop of land at the northeast end of Loch Awe and 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.

When I saw this place early yesterday afternoon, it was horribly misty and cloud hung around the mountains to the north of Loch Awe. If you look at Map:view you will see where I was standing to take this picture, the castle lying northwest of this position. I was ankle deep in mud and bog and there was "smirring" rain, not very heavy but quite enough to cover my ND grad filter sufficiently to cause several images to be totally unusable, so this is probably the best of a bad bunch with (hopefully) most of the raindrops cloned out.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1986 W: 427 N: 7659] (30513)
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