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Achallader Castle – Argyll's forgotten tower?


Achallader Castle is situated amongst farm buildings near Bridge of Orchy and readily seen from both road and rail as you head north to Fort William.

Achallader is a small tower built by Sir Duncan Campbell around 1600. Built of random rubble it rises to three storeys and a garret but is now greatly ruined.

achallader castle
Achallader Castle – now a convenient place for farm machinery

Never much of a house it has nevertheless a place in history.

At Achallader in 1691 the Earl of Breadalbane met with the highland chiefs. The Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie had been followed by the reverse at Dunkeld and defeat at Cromdale. The charismatic Viscount Dundee was dead and with no-one to replace him it was time to seek terms.

By a mixture of threats and bribes Breadalbane persuaded most of the chiefs to recognise the situation and the fact that William of Orange was now king – and to lay down their arms. The chiefs asked for time to contact King James in France to release them from their oath of loyalty. This was granted but MacIan of Glencoe held out until the last. His belated oath of loyalty to King William was conveniently ignored and on the 13th of February 1692 the MacDonalds of Glencoe were massacred by government troops.

Thirty eight were killed on the spot and 40 or more women and children died of exposure when their homes were burned.

achallader castle interior
Achallader Castle – note the corbelling for a corner turret

It is strange that Achallader is little thought of and sad that the tourists who hurry by in their thousands towards Glencoe are unaware even of its existence – it never fails to turn my head...


Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle.


Date posted: 31 Jan 2017Last updated: 31 Jan 2017