Lochranza Castle on the Isle of Arran

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 sometime after 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 appear to have been aligned with the Norwegian King) were given to the Stewarts. Some sources say the Stewarts of Menteith controlled Arran as early as the 1220s, during the reign of Alexander II.

Lochranza Castle
Looking out over the Kilbrannan Sound © Neil Ritchie

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.

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.

Lochranza Castle from the south © Neil Ritchie


Visitor Information

Property: Historic Environment Scotland

Address: Lochranza, Isle of Arran, KA27 8HL

Open:  April to October

Admission: Free

Grid Reference: NR 931 506

Map: View Lochranza Castle on Google Maps

Official Website: www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/lochranza-castle



All images: © Neil Ritchie, editor

Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of Scottish History

editor@scottishhistory.org | Twitter: @NeilRitchie86

Neil Ritchie

Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of Scottish History editor@scottishhistory.org | Twitter: @NeilRitchie86

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