Dunollie Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Ollaigh) is a small ruin located on a hill north of the town of Oban, on the west coast Scotland. It commands a view of the town, harbour and, outlying isles. The ruin is accessible by a short, steep path. There is no entrance fee, there is a small layby at the foot of the hill. With enough space to park two cars, care must be taken because the layby is on a busy road. There was a fortification on this high promontory in the days of the kingdom of Dál Riata which was the royal centre of the Cenél Loairn.
Ewan MacDougall, the third chief of the MacDougalls, probably built a castle there in the 13th century. The existing castle ruins date from the 15th century. The MacDougalls, the Lords of Lorne, were direct descendants of Somerled, Lord of the Isles, at a time when the Western Isles were part of Norway. Dougall, Somerled’s son, held most of Argyll and also the islands of Mull, Lismore, Jura, Tiree, Coll and many others in the 12th century.
The MacDougalls lost the land after siding with MacDougall kinsmen, the Comyns, and fighting against Robert the Bruce. John Stewart of Lorne returned the estates to the clan. The castle was besieged by General Leslie, Argyll's covenanter army general in 1647 and was later surrendered on honourable terms. Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads occupied Dunollie in 1651 and 1652, but it was returned to the MacDougalls by 1661. In 1746, the MacDougalls abandoned Dunollie Castle and built Dunollie House just downhill from the castle ruins.
In recent years, descendants and members of Clan MacDougall have been encouraged by clan leadership to support local tourism and pay visits to Dunollie, as an ancestral site and important cultural location.
The castle itself was built in the second quarter of the 13th century, as the seat of Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn and grandson of Somerled. Duncan was unsuccessfully attacked by his Norwegian-backed brother, Uspak, who later died in an attack on Rothesay Castle with Norse forces in the 1230s. He had also travelled to Rome in 1237, and was the founder of nearby Ardchattan Priory. Duncan's son Ewen MacDougall inherited his father's title in the 1240s, and expanded the MacDougall influence, styling himself "King of the Isles". It is probable that Ewen built the three round towers onto the castle, and constructed and enlarged the hall inside.
Following Alexander III's repulse of the Norse influence in Argyll, the MacDougalls backed the Scottish monarchy, and Ewen's son Alexander was made the first sherriff of Argyll in 1293. However, they supported the Balliol side during the Wars of Scottish Independence which broke out a few years later. Robert Bruce defeated the Clan MacDougall at the Battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308 or 1309, and after a brief siege, took control of Dunstaffnage Castle.
(Plans of Dunstaffnage Castle)
Built in 1582 by the Clan MacDougall. Gylen was only occupied for a relatively short period of time. The castle was besieged then burned by the Covenanters under General Leslie in 1647 during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In May of 2006 a restoration of the castle was completed with a £300,000 grant by Historic Scotland and £200,000 raised by worldwide members of Clan MacDougall.