History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
John Carswell served as chaplain to the powerful Campbell Earls of Argyll. In 1560 Carswell bought land at the northern end of Kilmartin Glen from Earl Archibald and set about building a substantial fortified house. This was a turbulent period in Scottish history, at the dawn of the Reformation, when the forces of Protestant reforming zeal turned Scotland upside-down.
As chaplain the Campbell Earls, Carswell saw the upheaval of Reformers on the European continent, and he knew that to protect his interests he needed a stronghold, a place of power. And that's what he created at Carnasserie, building on a strong hilltop location a fortified tower house with parapets and gun loops allowing defenders an unobstructed line of fire.
At Stirling he saw first-hand the Renaissance stonework crafted by James V's French masons. At Carnasseie he put these ideas into practice, and as a result, Carnasserie boasts a level of craftsmanship and detail rarely seen n the West Highlands.
Over the entrance is a large panel inscribed with the motto 'God be with O Duibhne' (the chiefs of Clan Campbell). The main tower block rises 4 floors, with a wing and secondary tower linked to the main block. There are spiral stairs set into the thickness of the walls, and you can climb right to the top of the tower for wonderful views down the glen and over the surrounding countryside.
I've been to Carnasserie twice, once in dismal grey drizzle and once in glorious sunshine. In the mist it seemed a gloomy place, a place you would not want to linger on a dark night. Oh, but in the sunshine, when the fields and hills of Kilmartin Glen were lush under a golden glow, it was a delight.
There's quite a bit of architectural detail still left, with the kitchens being one of the best-preserved parts of the castle. The views from the tower are amazing, and in the grounds you can see the ruins of a crumbling archway, leading to nothing. It is a romantic place, a place where history seems close to the surface, like so much of the wonderful Kilmartin Glen area.
Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.
About Carnasserie Castle
Address: A816, Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: On the A816, 2 mile north of Kilmartin. Open dayligt hours.
Website: Carnasserie Castle
OS: NM838 009
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Kilmartin Museum - 0.9 miles (Museum)
Kilmartin Sculptured Stones - 1.1 miles (Historic Church)
Kilmartin Crosses - 1.1 miles (Historic Church)
Glebe Cairn - 1.3 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nether Largie Cairns - 1.7 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Temple Wood Stone Circles - 2.1 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nether Largie Standing Stones - 2.1 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Ballygowan Cup and Ring Marks - 2.3 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Carnasserie Castle:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Carnasserie Castle. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.