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Aros Castle

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Aros Castle in spring. Courtesy of Roger Johns

Aros Castle in spring
Courtesy of Roger Johns

 

The ruins of Aros Castle, constitute a prominent landmark on the west coast of the Sound of Mull, occupying a strategically important position on a flat-topped promontory.

The principal remains are those of a hall-house and bailey defended on the landward side by a ditch and bank.  The hall-house occupies the north-west portion of the summit, the remaining area of which was enclosed by a stone curtain-wall to form an approximately square bailey.  The principal approach appears to have been by way of a causeway which crossed the north section of the ditch, thence passing beneath the south-west corner of the hall-house to enter a gateway in the west wall of the bailey.  Another track, probably of comparatively recent origin, leads westwards from the gateway, passing across the bottom of the ditch and through the outer bank.

The hall-house is more or less oblong on plan with walls varying in thickness from 1.7 m to 3.0 m.  The structure appears to have comprised two main storeys and a part attic.  The walls now stand to a maximum height of about 10m.  Architectural details suggest that it was built in the 13th century.

The curtain-wall that formerly enclosed the bailey survives only along parts of the west and south sides.  It varies in width from 1.1 m to 1.7 m and now rises to a maximum external height of 1.2 m.  Elsewhere the wall is represented only by a turf-grown mound of debris, while along part of the east side, where it could be quarried easily, it has disappeared completely.  The interior of the bailey is much overgrown, but the stone footings of a rectangular building may be seen close to the east wall.  The remains of at least five other buildings can be seen south-west of the hall-house.  Some of these may post-date the occupation of the castle.

The castle was probably built by one of the MacDougall lords of Lorn in the 13th century. It first comes on record in the later 14th century when it was in the possession of the Lords of the Isles. It appears to have been garrisoned by Argyll’s troops in 1690, though it was described two years previously as ‘ruinous, old, useless and never of any Strength’.  Throughout the 18th century the lands of Aros were farmed by a succession of Campbell tacksmen, but there is no record of the castle having been inhabited at this period.

Grid Reference NM 563 450