“ Historic Scottish castle in Argyll region. „
Review of Carnasserie Castle, Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland
I visited this lovely castle in May 2012. We discovered the castle quite by chance. We has spent the morning in the village of Kilmartin and found Carnasserie Castle shortly after we left the village.
The castle sits high above the A816 main road on a rocky ledge. The castle is approximately 1 to 2 miles north of Kilmartin. The castle is well sign posted and there is a large, free car park available for visitors use. The castle is open all year round; entry is free although donations are most welcome.
The castle is reached by means of a very steep path. This path is very rough underfoot and it rises steadily from the car park the length of the access path is around 1.5km (0.932 miles...thanks Google!).
As the path is not the easiest to negotiate, I would say that it is not suited to people with mobility issues or pushchairs. Although there are no facilities on the site, there are public toilets, shops and other facilities in nearby Kilmartin.
There is a pleasant grassed area in the castle car park where visitors can picnic, this is beside a pretty little stream and it is a very relaxing place, even though it is close to the road. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch here prior to walking up to visit the castle.
**The Castle - A Brief History**
Carnasserie Castle is steeped in history. The castle was built around 1565 by Bishop John Carswell., Rector of Kilmartin. Carswell was made Bishop of The Isles and the increased income he would have received from the profitable Abbey of Iona, enabled him to build a modern castle at Carnasserie to replace an earlier building. Carswell was also the Bishop responsible for publishing the first Gaelic translation of John Knox's Liturgy.
Carnasserie is a pretty unique castle, it would have been a really innovative building when it was built as it comprises of a tower house, with a parapet and a hall range integrated into a single building. The tower house was five storeys high, including the attic. The adjacent hall range was of three storeys. The ground floor contained kitchen and storage cellars, with the public and family apartments on the upper floors.
When Bishop Carswell died in 1572, his son and grandson succeeded him as residents until 1643, when the castle was sold to Sir Dugald Campbell, 3rd Baronet of Auchinbreck.
Following the 9th Earl's failed uprising in support of the Monmouth Rebellion, against James VII in 1685, the castle was blown up by Royalist forces. The outer walls remained largely undamaged; however the ruins were never repaired.
In the 19th century the estate including the ruined castle,was sold to the Malcolms of Poltalloch. Today it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument under the care of Historic Scotland.
**Carnasserie Castle Now**
As mentioned, this castle is basically a ruin. I have a slightly strange obsession with historic ruins, so Carnasserie is right up my street! The outer walls are amazingly well preserved considering the amount of time the castle has stood empty. None of the inner floors remain, however the staircases are intact and visitors can climb these to access the tower and parapet.
The various rooms of the castle are well defined and there are lots of information boards around the site.
The kitchen area is particularly fascinating. The huge main cooking fireplace remains as it would have been in the castle's prime. The water access spout is also still in evidence and the buttery still contains the original stone shelving.
When we visited we had our large greyhound with us, dogs are permitted providing they are kept on a lead, unfortunately, our dogs' long legs and body could not manage the twisting spiral staircases, so my other half climbed up while I waited down below with Rob-Dog and vice versa.
The views from the top of the tower are amazing, you really can see for miles and it is obvious why this castle was built in this location, not only is it very scenic but for security purposes, the site would have been perfect.
The atmosphere in Carnasserie Castle is fantastic, although we visited on a rather hot day; the castle was cool thanks to the very thick stone walls. The grounds are pleasant and there are lots of benches dotted around for visitors comfort. On the day we visited there was a large amount of other people visiting, yet we were able to look around in comfort and did not feel crowded or rushed.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
I loved Carnasserie Castle, it oozed atmosphere and the location is simply stunning. The castle is being wonderfully cared for by Historic Scotland and is a credit to them.
I was quite surprised by how many castles with free entry, we found in Scotland during our month long holiday. Most these buildings had a donation box prominently displayed and I always made a point of dropping in a few pounds, I do hope other visitors follow suit.
Carnasserie Castle is a lovely, historic building to visit and I would recommend this castle to others, with the proviso that the castle access is unsuitable for people with walking difficulties. Visitors should also wear sensible footwear in order to negotiate the foot path in comfort!
To conclude I am awarding Carnasserie Castle a 3* rating, this is based on the tricky access and lack of facilities on the site.
Thank you for reading
©brittle1906 July 2012
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