Lochranza Castle

13th-century hall-house and 16th-century L-plan tower house on the Isle of Arran

Lochranza Castle
Lochranza Castle | Credit: © Neil Ritchie, editor

The ruins of Lochranza castle stand on the shores of Loch Ranza at the north end of the Isle of Arran and enjoys views out over the Kilbrannan Sound.

The original structure that stood on the site was a hall-house built in the 1200s, possibly by Dougall MacSween, lord of Knapdale. Dougall had a similar hall-house across the Kilbrannan sound at Skipness and the similarities of the two structures have led many to believe the one at Lochranza was his construction. It is also possible the original hall-house was constructed by Walter Stewart, Earl of Menteith, who was given the lands of the MacSweens by King Alexander III in 1262. During the power struggle with the Norwegians on the western seaboard, Alexander placed loyal supporters in the West, and the lands of the MacSweens (who were aligned with the Norwegian King) were given to the Stewarts.

In 1263 the Norweigan King, Haakon IV, led a large Norse fleet into the Clyde. In a series of skirmishes, the Norse were defeated by a Scottish force led by Walter Stewart’s brother, Alexander of Dundonald, in what became known as the Battle of Largs.

Looking out over the Kilbrannan Sound | Credit: © Neil Ritchie, editor

Robert the Bruce is said to have visited here in 1306, possibly the spot where he landed by boat, seeking shelter on the island. In 1371 Lochranza Castle was in the possession of his grandson, Robert II, who used it as a royal hunting lodge.

The Montgomerie Earls of Eglinton acquired the castle in 1452 and in the 1490s King James IV used the castle as a base during his campaign against the Lord of the Isles.

Lochranza castle from the south-west | Credit: © Neil Ritchie, editor

In the latter part of the 16th century, the Montgomeries modernized the castle from the hall-house into the L-plan tower house that you can see today.

Oliver Cromwell’s troops held the castle in the 1650s following the Battle of Dunbar and by 1705 it was in the possession of the Hamilton family before it fell into disuse in the late 18th century.


  1. […] Fleeing into the Western Highlands with the small number of troops that he had left, Bruce suffered another military setback, inflicted by the leading Comyn supporters in Argyll, the MacDougalls of Lorne, at the Battle of Dalrigh, just outside Tyndrum in Argyll. Bruce was again lucky to escape. King Robert, no more than a fugitive at this point, fled – it is believed – into the lands of the Lord of the Isles, before returning to his earldom of Carrick, in south-west Scotland, via Kintyre and the Isle of Arran in early 1307. […]


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