This has been my favorite castle to visit thus far in my little drone footage tour. This Castle well exceeded my expectations with the stunning views, deep history and excellent state of repair. People from historic Scotland were on site as I arrived which was great to see as I think this an under appreciated castle, possibly because of its remote location.
When I arrived at Skipness the castle really took me back with its impressive dressed stone corner details, protruding bartizan features and archways. The curtain wall and tower house are strewn with defensive arrow slits. The tower house was accessible and I was able to have a look inside. I was taken back with how well the preservation work has been carried out compared to some other castles I have visited. The door at the main entrance to the tower house seemed to be a faithful recreation of a door of that period.
There has been new flooring laid on two levels with a stairwell and a spiral staircase leading to the roof. The roof, surrounded by a battlemented parapet, was also accessible which gives stunning views over to Arran. The roof of the tower house has been carefully preserved with the installation of a new roof covering with scotch slate along with a walkway and rail. The conservation works seem to be sticking to the principal of minimum intervention and prevention of further decay.
According to Historic Scotlands website, Skipness Castle was born in the early 1200s, probably by the MacSween family and It was acquired by the Stewart earls of Mentieth in 1262. It passed into the hands of the MacDonalds in 1325 and eventually on to the Campbell earls of Argyll.
Due to extensive rebuilding, the remains of the original Macsween constructed buildings are difficult to spot. They consist of a two-storey hall-house and a chapel, these are among the oldest standing castle buildings in Scotland. The original chapel was reformed into what we now see to form the front of the castle and a new chapel was constructed away from the castle which can be seen from the drone video below.
Next to the chapel building there is a huge arrow marked in the ground which is pointing across to Arran. You will see this in around the 2:10 mark of the above video. I originally thought that this might represent the location of the hall-house castle at Lochranza in Arran which the MacSweens’ also constructed. I have been informed by a researcher that the arrow is a remnant from from World War 2. It was used to guide airplanes on training missions. This insight certainly adds a layered history to the site.
There was a twelfth century latrine tower on the right hand side just as you walked into the castle enclosure which was later converted into a dovecot. It reminded me of the House of Black and White out of Game of Thrones. For those that have not watched Game of Thrones, you don’t know what your missing.
Although this location is quite remote there is a fantastic seafood cabin just across the way which allows for parking and refreshments when visiting the castle. Check out some further pictures of the site below.
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