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Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle

On the opposite shore, near the mouth of Loch Etive, is the celebrated Castle of Dunstaffnage, the stronghold of the lords of Lorn, and, traditionally, one of the earliest residences of the Scottish monarchy. It is a lofty square, or rather octagonal structure, crowning a perpendicular rock, and accessible only by a narrow outer staircase, which one sentinel could defend against a thousand assailants. At each of three angles is a round tower, the remaining angle being also rounded; and on the inner area of one of these is a square building of three stories, and of seemingly modern workmanship, compared with the rest of the castle. Of this portion the roof remains entire, and the flooring in a state of considerable preservation. A small house within the ancient walls, erected little more than a century ago, is the only portion of the fortress now inhabited. The circumference of the ancient building is about four hundred feet, and the walls from thirty to fifty feet high, by ten feet thick. It is supposed to have been erected towards the end of the thirteenth century, and was taken possession of by Robert Bruce after his victory over the lord of Lorn, in the Pass of Awe. It was afterwards inhabited till the middle of the fifteenth, century by the lords of Argyll; and, during the wars of Montrose, Macdonald of Colkitto narrowly escaped falling into the hands of its hostile garrison Believing it to be held by his friends, he was unsuspectingly approaching it in a boat, when a faithful piper, himself a prisoner in the garrison, struck up a well-known air, which Macdonald perfectly comprehending, hastily shifted his course and escaped. His escape, however, cost the piper his life.

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