For 700 years Duart Castle has dominated the Sound of Mull on the Isle of Mull, where its mighty curtain walls have defended the seat of Clan Maclean. The castle is located on a peninsula on the southeast of the island where it welcomes visitors with facilities including knowledgeable tour guides, nature walks, a café, and a gift shop.
|Address:||Isle of Mull,
|Opening Hours:||Monday - Sunday 10.30 am to 5 pm|
|Admission Price:||Adult £8.50
Child (4-15yrs) £4.00
Family (2 adults + 2 children (4-15yrs)) £21.00
Concession (Senior/Student) £7.50
|Parking:||Free car park on-site|
|Facilities:||Tearoom, gift shop, toilets, partial disabled access|
Duart Castle is one of the most visited attractions on the Isle of Mull, and with good reason.
This impressive 13th-century castle has been the seat of power for Clan MacLean for over 700 years and it’s one of the few castles in Scotland that still remains in private clan ownership, and in fact the castle is still lived in by the 28th Chief of the Clan Maclean, Sir Lachlan Maclean.
There’s a lot to discover during a visit to this impressive fortification and visitors will find there’s more to this historic attraction than rooms full of clan memorabilia.
A vast area of grassland that is a haven for wildlife surrounds the castle on all sides as it sits on a promontory overlooking the lovely Sound of Mull. There are also several areas of shingle beach that children can run around and explore while adults will appreciate the stunning views towards Tobermory in the north with the constant flow of ships that make their way towards Mull’s biggest town.
Once inside the castle you’ll be directed onto a short – but enjoyable – self-guided tour where you’re free to walk around at your own pace, although there’s always a knowledgeable guide on hand to answer any questions about the castle’s history and its huge collection of artefacts.
If you would like to join a tour of Scotland’s west coast islands take a look at this selection from Get Your Guide.
1: The view across the Sound of Mull is fantastic, especially from the highest point of the castle on the rooftop balcony.
2: The inside of Duart Castle is an interesting place and there’s a huge number of artefacts on display. If you have any questions about the history of the castle and its occupants there are guides on hand to answer any questions you might have.
3: There’s a lovely woodland to explore in the castle grounds. You’ll find the entrance opposite the car park.
1: Take a walk around the peninsula after visiting the castle – the view is stunning.
3: On your return journey to the mainland take a look at McCaig’s Tower which overlooks Oban harbour. This free historic site offers stunning views of the west coast islands.
The location for Duart Castle was chosen for the defensive position of the enormous high crag that overlooks the Sound of Mull, and today’s visitors can enjoy it for the fantastic views it offers.
The short walk around the castle is a great start and end point for your visit and it has lots of coves and shingle beaches for children to explore.
The castle itself is privately owned by Clan MacLean so it offers a slightly different experience to most other Historic Environment Scotland-managed castles.
There’s definitely more of a family feel to this historic site and some areas almost feel like you’re walking through someone’s family home, especially the state bedroom that was furnished for the wartime honeymoon of Lord MacLean.
Arguably the highlight of a visit to Duart Castle is The Great Hall which boasts an impressive collection of family portraits and coats of arms, but keep a lookout for the enormous case of family silverware which must be worth a small fortune.
There’s an interesting collection of weapons on display in this room to remind visitors of the castle’s importance as a defensive position, but before you leave check out the thickness of the walls as they’re 10 to 20 feet thick in places. No cannonball was going to bring this place down!
Moving on from the Great Hall you’ll discover the state bedrooms and dressing rooms of the MacLeans while an exhibition of the clan can be found by climbing up a winding stone staircase.
You might be intrigued to find Scouting Association memorabilia in this room alongside the history of the chiefs of the clan but this is easily explained by the fact that Charles MacLean was the UK’s Chief Scout between 1959 and 1971, and later became Chief Scout of the Commonwealth.
The final level of the castle leads onto an outside balcony that runs around its rooftops and it’s there where you’ll get some of the best views of your visit especially as you look north towards Tobermory, so make sure you have your camera at the ready.
Finally, after you’ve explored both the inside of the castle and the castle grounds, you can head into the on-site café which has excellent homemade food available. There’s a gift shop next door as well which has a good selection of souvenirs that all relate to the MacLean’s and their castle.
Although Duart Castle is known as the family stronghold of Clan MacLean it’s actually believed to have been built by Clan MacDougall in the 13th century. In fact, it wasn’t until 1350 that the fortification passed into the ownership of the MacLeans when it was gifted to them as part of the dowry from the marriage of the daughter of the Lord of the Isles to the 5th MacLean chief.
The castle saw several conflicts over the course of its history but perhaps none was more important than the siege of 1647 when Argyll government troops attacked the Royalist troops of the MacLeans.
Although the government forces were forced to retreat they returned in 1653 along with a task force of six warships under the orders of the English leader Oliver Cromwell.
Luckily for the MacLeans, a powerful storm swept in and destroyed three of the ships, with HMS Swan being sunk against the rocky outcrop on which Duart Castle sits. The remains of the warship are remarkably intact to this day and in recent years divers have been able to recover several artefacts from her broken hull.
Duart Castle was eventually surrendered to the Duke of Argyll in 1691, who promptly demolished it and scattered the stones of its walls across the local area.
The remains of the castle lay abandoned for over 200 years until it was purchased by Clan MacLean in 1911, and thankfully for modern-day tourists, they began a programme of restoration that led to its transformation into the tourist attraction that you can visit today.
Things to Do
Explore the Historic Duart Castle: Step back in time as you wander through the rooms of this 13th-century fortress. Each room bursts with history, showcasing artefacts and exhibits that tell the story of Clan Maclean. Expect to be captivated by the collection of clan relics, period furniture, and fascinating family memorabilia.
Stroll Around the Castle Grounds: The castle is surrounded by lush gardens and woodland, perfect for leisurely walks. The views from the grounds are stunning, with panoramic vistas of the Sound of Mull and the mainland beyond. Take a moment to appreciate the peace and tranquillity that the Scottish islands are famous for.
Visit the Tearoom: After exploring the castle, unwind at The Tearoom. Savour a selection of locally sourced foods, home-baked cakes (some still made according to Lady Maclean’s own recipes), and a variety of teas and coffees. The Tearoom offers a cosy atmosphere, perfect for reflecting on your visit while enjoying the views of the sea.
Participate in a Guided Tour: Duart Castle offers summertime tours that take visitors around the fortress’ many rooms as well as the beautiful land that surrounds it. Hear about the castle’s former occupants, its strategic military position, and the Cromwellian wrecks that lie just off the shore.
Attend a Clan Gathering: If your visit coincides with one of the castle’s Clan Gatherings, it’s an experience not to be missed. Meet members of Clan Maclean from around the world, enjoy traditional Scottish music and dancing, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.
Things to Do Nearby
Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa. Craignure, Isle of Mull, PA65 6BB. 10-minute drive.
This is one of Mull’s most luxurious destinations. The hotel features a superb restaurant that serves local produce, sumptuous rooms ranging from classic double to indulgent suites complete with hot tub, and a spa with a swimming pool and massage treatment rooms.
Sir William Black Lighthouse. PA64 6AP, Mull. 9-minute walk.
A lighthouse built into a Gothic tower located on the easternmost point of Mull. The lighthouse was built in the 1900s as a memorial to the Scottish novelist William Black. Walks are possible along the low clifftops in both directions.
Dun da Ghaoithe. Isle of Mull PA65 6BB. 19-minute drive plus a 2-hour walk.
A 766-metre-high curving ridge that looks over the ferry terminal at Craignure. Relatively easy-going although the rough path is unmarked.
Loch Spelve. Inverlussa, Isle of Mull PA65 6BD. 11-minute drive.
A sea loch that is almost landlocked apart from a narrow opening to the Firth of Lorn. Easily accessed via the A849. Due to its protection from the sea, Loch Spelve is often used by kayakers and it makes a good location for paddleboards to explore the Southeast region of Mull.
Aros Castle. Isle of Mull PA72 6JP. 29-minute drive.
A ruined 13th-century castle that mostly comprises a few walled sections. Good views across the firth to the mainland. There are lots of paths that follow the coastline to the north and south.
Loch Don. Lochdon, Isle of Mull PA64 6AP. 8-minute drive.
A shallow sea loch that becomes mudflats when the tide retreats. Loch Don is a popular bird-watching site that also offers very nice walks around it on single-track roads.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who built Duart Castle?
It is believed that Clan MacDougall constructed Duart Castle in the 13th century, and Clan MacLean acquired ownership of it in the following century.
Can you stay at Duart Castle?
It is not possible to stay overnight at Duart Castle. Accommodation for wedding guests can be found elsewhere on the island.
What can you see inside Duart Castle?
Duart Castle has been home to Clan MacLean for over 700 years and many historic artefacts are displayed inside.
The castle features a great hall with a collection of armoury and family portraits, a state bedroom and dressing room, and an exhibition of clan memorabilia.
Who lives in Duart Castle now?
Duart Castle is the ancestral home of Clan Maclean. The castle is owned and inhabited by Sir Lachlan Maclean, the 28th Chief of the Clan Maclean. Sir Lachlan has been a passionate advocate for the castle’s preservation and has overseen extensive restoration work.