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CastleUK Blog 2011

Castle UK Blog 2011 January PageA place where I can record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

This months Scottish castles, are from Argyllshire.

In June we went to Ripon, on a 2 day castle hunt.
The main reason for going was that Markenfield Hall was open to the general public, we've known about this spectacular moated medieval house, built mainly in 1310 and little altered since, for a long time. But when we wanted to go it was never open, you only get 28 afternoons a year so we weren't going to miss out this year. We have a love for moated manor houses and this one is the most complete surviving medium-sized 14th century country house left in England, plus there's the castles of Ripley and John of Gaunts nearby, it was all mouth watering stuff.
We've been round about here a couple of times before, visiting Topcliffe, Thirsk, Pickhill and Studforth Hill castles, all sadly waiting their turn to be put on the site.
First it was a nice little walk in Haverah Park, down past the Beaver Dyke reservoirs and up to John of Gaunts Castle, a royal hunting lodge. There's a bit a standing stone which are the remains of a gatehouse and great earthworks with all kinds of stony bits in them, it's all super stuff. Next stop was Ripon for some castle spotter shopping until Markenfield opened and when we got there just after 2pm the place was already busy and so was my camera, the black swans were waiting to greet everybody by the bridge over the moat and the sun was shining, this was a good day. We moved on heading for Masham, got some quick snaps of Hutton Convers Castle and had a good look round the 15th century Marmion Tower, with its beautiful oriel window it's the gatehouse of a vanished riverside manor house.
Next day first stop was Ripley Castle, we had been talking about the castle the night before, the tower house was built in the mid 16th century and then rebuilt in the 1780s but you only get to circulate the 6 rooms that are on display and it takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. It's a good looking castle and the place was busy when we got there but the oldest part is the 15th century outer gateway and it was easy to get a picture of that. We walked down the lane by the gate and I got my pictures of the tower, job done, I'm sorry to say that Ripley is just too new for us, we couldn't look at 6, late 18th century rooms for 75 minutes, after 10 minutes we would have been gone. The castle spotters time would be better spent shopping at Skipton market, our next destination and on the way back we stopped at North Lees to look at the earthworks of a medieval moated site with the ruined remains of a possible tower. It all sounded very good but the spotter summed it up quite nicely when she said 'I just read my book while you take your pictures of nothing' but I did get lots of good looking sheep!
Summer is here, Chris.

For more information, click on the pictures.

Barcaldine Castle WallpaperBarcaldine Castle, OS 49/NM 908-406 Argyllshire Scotland, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in May 2011, on the 6 day Scottish castle expedition and this is a morning view of the tower looking north. The castle is privately owned and offers luxury bed and breakfast hotel accommodation, exclusive use or a wedding ceremony venue. So, why not go and stay awhile
Achadun CastleAchadun Castle, OS 49/NM 804-393 Argyllshire Scotland.
Is a late 13th century square stone enclosure fortress, founded by the MacDougalls. On the western shore of Lismore, the castle sits conspicuous on a limestone ridge, overlooking Bernera Bay. From the 15th century, Achadun was held by the Bishops of Argyll until its abandonment in the 16th century.
The site is freely accessible in daylight hours and is visible from Bernera Bay. I got my pictures from the Oban to Craignure ferry but there are ferries to Lismore, so you can get up close, if you have a mind to.
Ardtornish CastleArdtornish Castle, OS 49/NM 692-426 Argyllshire Scotland.
Is a rectangular late 13th century stone defensible hall house, founded by the MacDonalds. Standing on a promontory that juts southwards into the Sound of Mull, the two storey hall house, sits conspicuous on a rocky outcrop. To the north and along the eastern foreshore are the foundations of a possible barn, with an attached corn-drying kiln, a boat-house and other outbuildings.
The site is freely accessible in daylight hours and is visible from the Sound of Mull. Again I got my pictures from the Fishnish to Lochaline ferry but there is a small road, with a walk to Ardtornish Point if you want a closer look.
Aros CastleAros Castle, OS 47/NM 563-449 Argyllshire Scotland.
Is a 13th century stone rectangular hall house and courtyard fortress, founded by the MacDougalls of Lorn. Of two storeys and an attic, the hall stands on the north-west angle of a flat-topped promontory, with steep slopes down to the beach. It commands the irregularly shaped walled courtyard and the northern landward approach across the ditch and outer bank, down to a gateway in the west wall.
The site is freely accessible in daylight hours. Great castle here, that you can see from the road but it's better to take the circular walk from the main road.
Barcaldine CastleBarcaldine Castle, OS 49/NM 908-406 Argyllshire Scotland.
Is an early 17th century stone L-plan tower house, founded by Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy. Of three storeys and an garret, the wing is slightly offset beyond the west gable of the main block. In the re-entrant angle is a circular stair tower and its ground floor entrance, is still defended by an iron yett. With a first floor hall and a vaulted basement which contains the kitchen and cellars, crowning three angles are large bartizans.
The site is privately owned and offers luxury bed and breakfast hotel accommodation, exclusive use or a wedding ceremony venue, also it's visible from the road. You can stay here or like me just take a very good look from the road.
Dunollie CastleDunollie Castle, OS 49/NM 852-315 Argyllshire Scotland.
Was originally a 13th century enclosure fortress, founded by the Chiefs of the Clan MacDougall of Lorn. Overlooking Oban Bay, this rock promontory was the site of a late 7th-8th century structure of the kings of Dalriada. In the mid 15th century, John MacDougall founded the stone castle, when he diagonally flanked a square four storey tower house, on the north-east angle of a small square courtyard.
The site is owned by the MacDougalls and is freely accessible in daylight hours, a steep little zigzag path ascends the promontory. It's a nice spot by this castle, which is just north of Oban, the view at the top, makes this a must climb castle.

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