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Arran of the Bens, The Glens and the Brave
Chapter V. Arran's Castles

Of old Brodick Castle only one end, and the stones used by the old builders and part of the plan and outline, now remain. It has been practically rebuilt many times, and was completely modernised in the middle of the nineteenth century. None the less, there are few castles can compare with it in associations, and fewer still have been taken and re-taken as often as Brodick. In the re-building of 1844, referred to, a heavy tower was built up on the remains of the old walls, and one winter's night the tower fell with a tremendous crash. Brodick's chief interest lies now in its splendid position and its associations with a hundred wild forays, with fire and with sword. Among the keepers of Arran Castle have beenó

1296 Sir John Stewart of Menteith. (about)
1305 Thomas Bisset of the Glens, in Ireland, and (about) of Rathlin.
1306 Sir John Hastings.
1313 Sir John Stewart of Menteith.
1445 William Stewart (nephew of Robert II.).
1488 Hugh, Lord Montgomery.
1526 George Tait.
1579 Ninian Stewart.
1586 Patrick Hamilton.
1588 Paul Hamilton.


One of the finest sights in the West Highlands is the old royal castle of Lochranza, standing, superbly set, on its narrow peninsula of sand, with the water at its feet and the crags above, and all the wealth of reds and browns of the sea margin giving the place its wonderful colouring. The cottages and hills and distant view down Glen Chamadale add another interest to a picture already wild and lovely.

The castle, once a royal residence or hunting lodge, is now in ruins, though only one hundred and forty years ago it was seemingly quite habitable. Its plan is that of a typical Scottish castle, rather better than the mere peel tower. On the first floor the hall measured some 74 ft. by 23 ft., and was lit by three windows. The floor was boarded at any rate in later times. The castle possessed the luxury of a kitchen, and on the first floor was also another room. The place is mentioned by Fordun in 1400. It was given by John of Menteith to Duncan Campbell of Lochawe in 1433, and in 1445 was occupied by Ronald MacAllister as Captain, at which time he was also tenant of certain crown lands in the island, for which he paid a rent of £16, 6s. 8d., and twelve bolls of bear. As Donal Balloch had about this time laid his lands waste, MacAllister refused to pay his rent. The castle and lands of Lochranza, Cattadell, the two Tonregeys (now barbarously called Thundergay), and other lands were given by James II. to Alexander, Lord Montgomery. His grandson was created Earl of Eglinton, and in 1488 was keeper of Brodick Castle. In 1661 it was still in the possession of the same family. In 1685 passed to the Montgomeries of Skelmorlie, and early in the next century passed to the Hamiltons.

The chapel of St. Bride, mentioned by Scott as possessing a convent, where dwelt Isabel and the Maid of Lome, stood on the beach, but not a trace now remains to show the spot.


Arran has been said to be in itself an epitome of geology, and in that respect it is unique. Briefly, the Devonian sandstone extends from the east to some five miles inland, and from Brodick takes a turn to the southwest. Trap-rock and carboniferous strata occur in the west and centre of the island. The central granite portion includes the great hills of Goatfell, Cir Mhor and Casteal Abhail. On the north-east and south the granite is joined by mica slate; on the south-east and north by lower Silurian rocks, which are met on the east and south by Devonian sandstone, while lias and oolite lie above the mica slate.

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