LOCAL HISTORIC SITES
Standing at the head of Loch Awe on what is today a low, rocky mound, but which, in medieval times, was an island, Kilchurn Castle was built, probably, around 1440 by Margaret, wife of Sir Colin Campbell, first Laird of Glenurquhay.
This original 5-storey keep, later extensively improved and extended, was to be well-tested in battle – for instance, enduring a siege by Royalists during the Civil War. Later, although by now already a partial ruin, it was used to garrison Hanoverian troops in the tumultuous days of the Jacobite Risings.
[Further info & Opening times]
Duncan Ban MacIntyre
One of Glen Orchy’s most famous sons, the Gaelic Bard, Duncan Ban (or “Fair” Duncan), was born in a now deserted township on the shores of Loch Tulla. His extraordinary granite monument (13.5 metres high on the Old Military Road from Inveraray to Dalmally) was raised by public subscription in 1859 and dominates Glen Orchy and Loch Awe and its islands. Queen Victoria was thrilled by the view when she came to see it in 1875.
The monument is built on the site where, in Duncan’s life, the men of the villages held their twice yearly Parliament.
Barr a Chasteilean
Barr a Chasteilean is a deserted village across the railway bridge at Dalmally.
The houses of the village cluster near the ruins of a dun, or fortified house, hence the name, which means Castle Hill. In the 1400s, Barr a’Chasteilean was the home of the MacNabs, iron workers and armourers.
Apart from the dun, which is interesting in itself, there are the remains of ten or so houses, which were built of stone and would have been thatched. A large walled area was the communal garden, the Garradh Mor.
Or Barr an Eireanach (Irishman’s Ridge) was once planted with a line of Scots Pine resembling marching soldiers. These were planted by locals endeared by the charm of the Irish Garrison stationed at Kilchurn castle in the 18th century.
More significantly the MacNabs, blacksmiths, had their furnace here and crafted the armoury for Kilchurn Castle.
The MacNab stone with its coat of arms (two arms with swords and a galley with oars in action) can be seen in the south-east corner of Glenorchy Kirk.
St Conan’s Kirk
Tradition has it that the elderly Mrs. Campbell found the long drive to the parish church in Taynuilt too much for her, and that her son accordingly decided to build her a church nearby. Walter’s first design, completed in 1886, was relatively simple but he began to dream of a far nobler structure. Work on that ‘nobler’ Edwardian section of the kirk commenced in 1907, and Walter devoted the rest of his life to its execution until he died in 1914.
[St Conan’s Kirk website]
St Conan’s Well
St. Conan is the patron saint of Lorne and is said to have lived near the well and blessed the spring, which was complimented for it’s lightness and salubrity.
A poor man lived in a humble dwelling by the well for 44 years. During that time he shared the water with any travelling on the road. He kept his mental faculties until he died at the grand age of 85 yrs.
Coins were found in the well dating from the reign of Charles I and II (1630-1650) – they can be seen at the Glenorchy Kirk.
(Situated opposite the Police station in Dalmally)