Mingary Castle, the MacIans and the Lordship of Ardnamurchan

By Tom Addyman and Richard Oram


1       Mingary Castle, the MacIans and the Lordship of Ardnamurchan        Richard Oram

1.1       Introduction

1.2       The Historiography of Mingary Castle

1.3       The Lordship of Ardnamurchan to c.1350

1.4       The MacIans

1.5       The MacIan Inheritance and the Rise of Campbell Power 1519-1612

1.6       Civil War to the Jacobite Era

1.7       Conclusion

2       Bibliography

2.1       Unpublished Primary Sources and Reports

2.2       Primary Sources

2.3       Secondary Works

1      Mingary Castle, the MacIans and the Lordship of Ardnamurchan
Richard Oram

1.1    Introduction

Until its first emergence into the historical record in 1495, Mingary is a silent presence in the background of the long and complex history of the lordship of Ardnamurchan and, especially, its fourteenth- to early seventeenth-century MacIan owners.  Whilst it is likely to have been the venue for many of the great gatherings at which the political life of the Lordship of the Isles or the conduct of the campaigns which suppressed the rebellions mounted by those who sought to restore that Lordship after 1493 was decided, it is rarely mentioned directly in any source.  In the following analysis, the castle remains an often shadowy presence but it should be remembered that the high political events which punctuate the narrative were mainly fought out over inheritances, land, office, and the status and influence that these things bestowed, and that Mingary constituted a physical symbol of all those things.  Although often not named specifically, it should be understood that the castle was one of the great prizes competed for, possession of it giving control of the lordship of Ardnamurchan – often conjointly with Sunart – and domination of the waters at the northern end of the Sound of Mull and between Mull, Coll, Tiree and the islands south of Skye.

The report falls into five principal parts with a short conclusion.  Part 1 explores the historiography of the castle itself, examining the development of thinking on its date and possible builders.  Part 2 examines the evidence for the lordship of Ardnamurchan and its early owners down to c.1350.  This is followed in Part 3 by an extended exploration of the MacIan lordship down to 1519.  In Part 4, the transfer of control from MacIan to Campbell hands over the course of the sixteenth century is traced, concluding with the securing of actual possession by the Campbells in 1612.  Finally, the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century history of the building and its owners is considered, concluding with the final phase of known occupation in the early 1800s.

1.2    The Historiography of Mingary Castle

Given the remarkable level of physical preservation at Mingary, it is striking how in comparison to the other West Coast castles with which it is often linked in discussions it has been so little researched or analysed.  The summary notes with supporting bibliography on the RCAHMS Canmore database gives an indication of how relatively neglected Mingary has been in castellological or historical research in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.[1]  It is also evident that much of the ‘discussion’ has been simply a recycling of the interpretation of the building first offered in the late nineteenth century and that this, in turn, has fed into a remarkably circular set of arguments surrounding the whole question of date and development of a group of buildings on the western seaboard dominated by the castles of Dunstaffnage, Duart, Mingary, Tioram and Kisimul.  This is not the place to detail the development of those arguments, much of which has recently been critiqued by Geoffrey Stell in respect of Tioram, and the following section represents principally a review of the main items in the historiography of Mingary.

It was only in the late nineteenth century that Mingary first achieves a profile in architectural studies.  The relative remoteness of Mingary and its lack of a high historical profile may account for the fact that, despite the early date that they acknowledge for it, it was only in Volume III of their great five-volume analysis of Scottish castles that David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross addressed it.[2]  The first two volumes had seen the articulation of their theory of a progression in Scottish castle-development across a series of ‘Periods’, a typologising approach that was characteristic of nineteenth-century museology.  In Vol III, they were bringing in further examples of the buildings of the different periods that had been omitted for a variety of reasons in the first two volumes.  For MacGibbon and Ross, Mingary was a castle of their ‘First Period’, which they placed broadly in the thirteenth century but with some possibly late twelfth-century stone structures in its initial phases.  They noted that the greatest level of survival – and completeness – of buildings of this period, labelled by them as ‘primitive structures’ was in the remoter Highlands and Islands, but they cautioned that this was not a true reflection of their probable former distribution across the country.  The principal cause of the loss of most castles of that period elsewhere in the mainland Scotland, they proposed, was the Wars of Independence.[3] 

In its language, MacGibbon and Ross’s account set in place a vision of primitiveness and general lack of sophistication that has characterised discussion of this group of West Coast castles down to present.  Mingary and its fellows were not only ‘ancient strengths’ but also ‘primitive fortresses’.[4]  Having given that value judgement, they then proceeded to explain that there is no record of the origins of the building and give its first historical attestation as the 1490s.  Nevertheless, they apply a broad thirteenth century construction date to it.  Their principal diagnostic dating evidence is the form of the windows in the north wall of the enclosure, which they identify as sharing characteristics with openings in the walls at Dunstaffnage and Duart.[5]  In terms of analysis, they focus principally on the curtain wall and its character but identify that the principal buildings of the original complex are likely to have stood against the north side of the enclosure as the current main structure does.  That building they saw as essentially eighteenth-century in date.  The east and west ranges are not assigned dates by them but are interpreted as, on the west apartments with cellars below and on the east as ‘stables or byres’.  They conclude with the assessment that ‘we have here undoubtedly one of the primitive castles of the Western Islands’, an assessment based on simplicity of plan and the form of the window and door openings in the curtain, which indicated ‘a date as old as the thirteenth century’.[6]  It is an assessment that remains unquestioned in its basic details down to the present.

Although significant space is devoted to West Highland and Hebridean castles, especially Dunstaffnage and Kisimul, Mingary is not mentioned in W Mackay Mackenzie’s pioneering 1927 study of Scottish medieval castles, but neither too is Tioram.[7]  Discussion of the western castles, therefore, did not progress beyond the assessment offered in the later 1880s by MacGibbon and Ross until William Douglas Simpson began to present his own nuanced view of medieval castle-building in Scotland.  He did no differ greatly in terms of architectural discussion from the views of his predecessors, his principal divergence being in terms of the social and political circumstances that gave rise to castle-building of particular forms.  Simpson’s view of Mingary and Tioram as part of a scattered group of West Coast and Hebridean castles of enceinte of thirteenth-century date was tempered by a view of them as of curtain-wall castles of the ‘simplest form’ and quite ‘primitive’.[8]  It was his view that their lack of donjon or mural towers was a direct consequence of the rocky nature of their sites, the result being plain multangular curtain walls of the most basic design.  In this assessment, he failed to give due notice to the remarkable double level of lancets at Mingary, which point to an internal arrangement of some sophistication.  He was still more cautious with assigning a construction date in a later assessment of Mingary, placing its erection vaguely sometime in the period after the division of the Isles between Somerled and the king of Man in 1156, in which Ardnamurchan Point was the marker of the territorial division.[9]  For Simpson, the closest analogy was Kisimul on Barra, to which he assigned a twelfth- or thirteenth-century date based on the style of its battlements.[10]  In the absence of any other more closely datable architectural detail, the apparently early form of plan – curtain wall castles by definition being considered ‘early’ in a typological progression from motte-and-bailey sites through to complex towerhouses – coupled with the seemingly simple, and therefore also by definition ‘early’, form of the wall-head, the general trend was to assign earlier rather than later dates of construction to these buildings.  Unlike Kisimul, however, Mingary has more closely datable features in the openings in its north front.  The lancet windows in the curtain, however, were assigned vaguely to the ‘First Pointed’ period – which for Simpson extended from the close of the twelfth-century through to the early fourteenth century – but the building itself was generally characterised simply as thirteenth-century.

Simpson’s model for the emergence of castle-building in Scotland identified the castles of the Argyll coast and Hebrides as symbols of ‘the arrival of the Anglo-Norman penetration upon our western coastline’.[11]  They were the physical evidence for the intrusion of an alien culture into this Norse-Gaelic zone and were, ultimately, the concrete reflections of the new political realities that followed the cession of sovereignty in the Isles to the Scottish crown in 1266.  Maintaining the vision offered by MacGibbon and Ross nearly a century earlier, their remarkable state of survival he saw as a consequence of their remoteness from the political heartlands of Scotland, where most early castles had been destroyed in the course of the Wars of Independence.  Indeed, Simpson highlighted the different treatment meted out to Dunstaffnage, for example, following its capture by Robert Bruce; it was garrisoned and maintained whereas other castles captured by the king in south-eastern Scotland were destroyed.[12]  The main reason for their survival, however, Simpson saw as arising from their location in ‘a remote and backward part of the country’, where there was less likelihood that they would be recast to accommodate changing architectural fashions or defensive innovations, which were in any case made impractical by the inconvenience of their actual sites.  It was his final considered view that ‘once built, such castles [as Kisimul etc] could never be anything else than essentially a great wall of enceinte’.[13]

Although Simpson treated the west coast castles as a group in his later work, he was influenced strongly by Stewart Cruden’s architectural analysis of Scottish castles, first published in 1960, where the fully-developed thesis of a distinct group of ‘Western Seaboard’ castles of similar plan and design had been articulated.[14]  The group, represented by Kisimul on Barra, Mingary, Tioram in Moidart and Dunstaffnage near Oban, were typologised on the basis of plan:

They are all of irregular plan, and are situated, each and every one, upon abrupt rocky outcrops or on the edge of sea rock.  They follow the outline of their site, and, with one exception, they have no projecting towers.  Their siting, general characteristics, and some particular features, strongly suggest contemporaneity and the work of the same school of military architects, a supposition which is strengthened by their distribution.[15]

Cruden proposed two possible dates for the development of the group; the first in the years following Alexander III’s success over the Norwegians at the battle of Largs in 1263, the second at the end of the thirteenth century during the initial phases of the Wars of Independence.[16]  For Cruden, the unquestionably thirteenth-century date for the lancets at Dunstaffnage and Mingary establishes the date of the entire group, but he refutes any attempt to date them more closely due to a general lack of either documentary record or more closely datable features.  He also dismisses any suggestions that they may be instances of later use of a much older style, an argument that he viewed as spuriously premised on the basis of the first recording of most of them at the close of the fifteenth century.

Considering the high level of preservation of the castle, as praised by Cruden, it featured little in further discussions of castle architecture until the 1980s.  The most detailed analysis was published in 1980 by RCAHMS, in which the synopsis of the castle’s description confidently ascribed ‘the main body of the curtain-wall … to the 13th century’.[17]  The following year John Dunbar’s account of architecture in the medieval Highlands repeated that dating, noting that it was the only castle in the West Highlands to possess any features that were in the leastways datable; ‘a few lancet windows of 13th-century character’.[18]  On the basis of the similarities in plan of the earliest phases of Mingary and nearby Tioram, Dunbar went on to suggest that the two buildings were contemporary.  This tendency to link the buildings by analogous architectural detail was already evident twenty years earlier in Cruden’s work, where the nature of the stair providing access to the parapet of the curtain wall at Mingary and Tioram was noted as rising in ‘identical fashion’ in a straight sweep from courtyard level.[19]

Despite his repetition of Dunbar’s suggestion that Mingary might have been built by a MacDonald of Islay, Tabraham in his discussion of the West Coast curtain-wall castles pointed to the general similarities in plan shared by the main examples – Dunstaffnage, Mingary, Tioram – and some smaller structures, such as Duart, Duntrune and Dunvegan, and floated the question of if that similarity might point to ‘a single hand […] involved in their design and execution’.[20]  Having raised that issue, his discussion then focuses on Dunstaffnage, the one member of the mainland group that has both datable architectural details and has also been the target of modern excavation.[21]  The lancets in the curtain walls and fish-tailed arrow-slits in the towers at Dunstaffnage are diagnostically thirteenth-century in date and the castle had in the past been dated in its entirety on the basis of those features.  The excavations, however, raised the possibility that the towers containing the diagnostic arrow-slits were secondary additions to the curtain wall and that the lancets, too, might be secondary insertions.[22]  Dates and builders for these two phases were also postulated: Duncan MacDougall of Lorne in the 1230s for the initial construction of the curtain wall; his son Ewen MacDougall in the 1260s for the towers and lancets.[23]  This identification raises a further question; is the commonality between the castles in the group a marker of probable MacDougall ownership of the two?  Given that Ewen’s son, Alexander MacDougall, was identified in 1293 as lord of Ardnamurchan it is most likely that Mingary’s similarity to Dunstaffnage arises from the MacDougalls’ possession of a territorial sphere that extended from Lorne north and west through Morvern, Mull and Ardnamurchan.  Confident identification of the builders of the group of thirteenth-century castles along the west coast as the MacDougalls followed, with John Gifford having embedded that view in his Buildings of Scotland discussion of Highlands and Islands castles.[24] 

In his recent assessment of the castle-building activities of the three principal lineages descended from Somerled, the twelfth-century ruler of Argyll and much of the Isles, Ian Fisher offered a further complicating suggestion; was Mingary a MacRuari-built castle.[25]  This proposal is based straightforwardly on the similarity in basic design of Mingary and Tioram, the latter of which is historically attested by charter evidence from the 1320s as a residence of the MacRuari segment of the Somerled-derived lineages.[26]  It is, of course, entirely possible that Mingary and the lordship of Ardnamurchan may have been acquired by the MacRuari family as a consequence of the dismemberment of the MacDougall lordship in the aftermath of Robert I’s triumph over the Balliol party in the Scottish civil war, but there is no evidence to suggest that the MacRuaris’ mainland lordship included Ardnamurchan as well as Moidart.  The dating of Mingary offered by Fisher remains generally ‘thirteenth-century’, with the familiar cross-reference to the architectural details of Dunstaffnage – particularly in respect of the window openings and entrances to the mural passages and latrine chambers – but the stylistic link with Tioram and its pre-1320s existence is offered as further corroboration of Mingary’s early date.

The most recent architectural discussions of the building effectively draw together all of the foregoing points in summary form.  Graham Ritchie and Mary Harman’s 1985 description is a very brief summary of the main findings of earlier more detailed analyses and avoids any attempt to attribute the building to a particular family; it simply labels the castle as thirteenth-century.[27]  The most extended discussion is offered by John Gifford, but this is basically a summary of the RCAHMS analysis of the 1970s.[28] Mary Miers cautiously gives a ‘from the thirteenth century’ date for the origin and development of the building but offers no rationale for why it is thirteenth-century beyond a sideways reference to its similarity to Tioram.[29]

1.3    The Lordship of Ardnamurchan to c.1350

Research into the medieval landholding and political structures of the West Highlands and Islands which might reveal the identity of Mingary’s owners is bedevilled by an absence of detailed record evidence for the period before c.1500.  Neither the surviving narrative nor the record sources provide a basis from which to reconstruct the political map of the region with any confidence, particularly on account of the tendency of some of the later regional clan histories to offer exaggerated views of their ancestral position as shameless propaganda or calculated claim-staking.  An absence of hard evidence for the spheres of power of even the major families in the twelfth- to fifteenth-century period always leaves room for question in any models constructed, but there are enough fragments of evidence to permit the generalities of the pattern and the shifts in balance that occurred within it to be outlined.

Much of the difficulty revolves around the grand claims advanced in later clan histories for the status of the MacDonald lineage and its territorial sphere before their rise to power as Lords of the Isles in the fourteenth century.[30]  These contain fanciful and often chronologically impossible accounts of the pre-1300 period, typified by the suggestion that Ranald son of Somerled, whose floruit was in the late twelfth century, married ‘MacRandel’s daughter, or, as some say, to a sister of Thomas Randel (Randolph) Earl of Murray’, who died in 1332![31]  The most serious problem, however, is the attempt in these later histories to assert MacDonald rights in the Hebrides through claims that they were ‘willed’ to them by Somerled rather than to Dugall, the eponymous founder of the MacDougall line, and that Dugall was, in case, illegitimate and had no right to an inheritance in the Isles.  Dugall’s heritage is presented as entirely mainland Argyll-based, stretching from Loch Leven in the north to Asknish in the south and his spread into Mull from there is presented as a shameless land-grab at the expense of his legitimate half-brothers and their children.[32]  The Isles, it is asserted, were the rightful sphere of Ranald, and it was there that he attempted to find a suitable heritage for the sons of another of his brothers, Somerled.  The elder of these boys was John, whom the author of the ‘History of the MacDonalds’ identified as the founder of the lineage of the MacIans of Ardnamurchan.  Through this route, the ‘History’ seeks to establish a MacDonald interest in Ardnamurchan from at least the time of Ranald son of Somerled.  The claim is advanced further through a story that John, having achieved his majority, asked his uncle Ranald to provide him with men to seize a certain ‘Muchdanach’ who held Moidart and Ardnamurchan and was a close associate of Dugall.  John then killed rather than just captured Muchdanach, which greatly displeased Ranald, but seems to have mollified his uncle by stating that he wanted no more of his father’s lands than Ardnamurchan, Glassary in Argyll, and some property in Islay.[33]  This convoluted tale has been concocted simply to push the chronology of MacDonald/MacIan right to Ardnamurchan back by over a century.  Despite its clearly fictitious content, however, it has remained a source used by many modern popular historians, who have helped to give its mythologizing an air of credibility and acceptance.

This position has been compounded by the hesitancy over the question of the early ownership of Ardnamurchan and the identity of the likely builder of Mingary that has on occasion arisen in modern discussion.  Doubts and uncertainty expressed by modern academic or professional researchers have given rise to a series of false provenances for the construction of the castle finding their way into the academic literature.  The principal problem here is the separation of discussion of the castles from discussion of the historical record and the often greater public prominence that the former has received.  On the basis of later MacIan-MacDonald ownership and the deep-seated strength of the ‘History of the MacDonalds’, for example, the eminent architectural historian John Dunbar suggested that the castle may have been built by one of the MacDonalds of Islay, a suggestion repeated in more recent popular literature on Scottish castles.[34]  This attribution is certainly wrong, for when Ardnamurchan appears in February 1293 as a distinct political territorial unit under the lordship of Alexander MacDougall, lord of Argyll, incorporated into the new sheriffdom of Lorne over which Alexander was to preside as sheriff,[35] it is evident that this had been MacDougall property for some considerable period.  This latter fact is not ‘new’ evidence that came to light after Dunbar wrote; the arrangements for the new administrative structures in the west had been available in published format since the early 1800s.[36]  The difficulty lies in the academic separation of study into discrete specialist areas where lack of familiarity with the sources and the research of different fields often leads to critical documents or published analyses being omitted by specialists from different disciplines.  Study of the lordship of Ardnamurchan and Mingary Castle has long been bedevilled by that problem.

It was to separate the myth from the historically-attestable reality that in 1992 David Sellar began research that would lead to his new vision of the nature of the power structures of Argyll and the Isles in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, published in 2000.[37]  Sellar started from the premise that the significance of the MacDougalls has been consistently understated in Scottish historiography through a combination of the political collapse of the family’s position in the fourteenth century and an over-emphasis on the importance of the MacDonalds.  His forensic dismantling of the surviving evidence provides the clearest discussion to date of the relationships between Somerled’s sons and reveals the certainty that it was Dugald and not Ranald who was the senior by birth.  As he rightly points out, however, ‘to lay much store by primogeniture at this period is, however, anachronistic’.[38]  Dugald may have been the senior but his relative obscurity in the record suggests that he may well have been overshadowed by his younger brother.  Dugald’s children, however, appear to have overtaken their MacDonald and MacRuari cousins by the middle of thirteenth century, perhaps through a careful alignment of their interests with those of the Scottish crown which, under King Alexander II, was consolidating its presence in the western mainland seaboard.[39]  As Lords of Argyll, they were by the 1240s the dominant kindred in the region and already had begun a policy of intermarriage with the leading lineages of eastern and lowland Scotland.  This regional dominance reached its apogee under Alexander MacDougall of Lorne, lord of Argyll, the man whom King John Balliol sought to establish as sheriff of Argyll in 1293.  Lord of a great complex of lands that stretched from Ardnamurchan in the north to the border of Knapdale in the south, he had the greatest territorial authority of any of his kin since the time of Somerled, an authority reinforced by his slaying of his two principal regional rivals – Alexander MacDonald of Islay and Colin Mor Campbell, lord of Lochawe – before 1299.[40]  Just over a decade later, however, all of that great assemblage of power had disintegrated and Alexander died as an impoverished exile receiving a pension from Edward II of England, his family broken through its staunch adherence to the Balliol interest in Scotland.[41]  Although his great-grandson John Gallda MacDougall made peace with the Bruce regime in Scotland and received back a portion of his heritage in Lorne,[42] much of the great domain controlled by Alexander in the late thirteenth century had been lost forever, mostly into the hands of their kinsmen and ancient rivals the MacDonalds.

The process of formally separating the MacDougalls from their heritage and assigning it to others was probably underway well before 1314 but would have been confirmed in the general process of forfeiture of King Robert Bruce’s unreconciled enemies that commenced after Bannockburn.  A now lost charter of King Robert to Angus Og MacDonald, lord of Islay, probably datable to the period before c.1320, awarded him the lordship of Ardnamurchan, to which around the same time were added Lochaber, Duror and Glencoe.[43]  The Ardnamurchan lordship, however, was missing from the charter of King David II issued to Angus’s son, John, in 1343.  That award confirmed him in possession of Islay, Jura, Colonsay, Mull, Tiree, Coll, Lewis, Morvern, Lochaber, Duror and Glencoe, plus the two castles of Cairn-na-burgh and the castle of Dun Chonuill.[44]  Such coming and going of these various properties in the award and counter-award of charters in this period helped to frame suggestions that Ardnamurchan may have fallen within the sphere of MacRuari power either in the thirteenth century or before the absorption of the family’s domain into the MacDonald lordship after 1346.  These arguments, however are not supported by any documentary record.[45]  Duncan and Brown, for example, argued that the failure of a list of titles afforded Alexander MacDougall’s son, John, in 1302 to mention either Ardnamurchan or Morvern, and the absence of these territories from a settlement of 1354 involving John’s grandson, John, pointed to these not having formed any part of the MacDougall heritage.  Given that the 1302 document fails to mention other districts that were most definitely MacDougall-held at that time – such as Mull – this argument fails to stand up to scrutiny.  Their association of Ardnamurchan and Morvern with the MacRuari for no stronger reason than geographical proximity is untenable and, it must be added, would fall on the simple application of their own methodology for excluding them from the MacDougall lordship: when Ranald MacRuari formally entered the peace of King David II and had his lands confirmed to him in 1343, they were listed as Uist, Barra, Eigg, Rum and Garmoran (a mainland territory comprising Moidart, Morar, Arisaig and Knoydart) – neither Ardnamurchan nor Morvern were among them.[46]

The uncertainty over ownership of Ardnamurchan across this extended period down to the 1350s is probably the result of the complex efforts by the rivals for control of Scotland at this time – David II Bruce, Edward Balliol and Edward III of England – to win the support of the various kindreds who claimed the ability to control the region and deliver its military resources to their cause.  Ostensibly ‘Bruce’ loyalists like John MacDonald of Islay, 1st Lord of the Isles, were not averse to cutting deals with the Balliol-English party and receiving speculative grants of land and offices which were then countered by alternative – and equally speculative – grants from David II and his supporters.[47]  Into this mix should be added John Gallda MacDougall, who was seeking to regain something of his heritage and who was prepared to sacrifice much to regain a toehold in his ancestral lands.  It is perhaps significant that it was in the period shortly after his reconciliation with David II and around the time of his formal agreement with John MacDonald of Islay over their rival claims to the island portion of the MacDougall heritage[48] that the first hints of possible MacIan possession of Ardnamurchan come.  Was that part of the price that he was prepared to concede for a restoration to his great-grandfather’s lordship of Lorne?

1.4    The MacIans

The MacIans of Ardnamurchan were one of the senior cadets of Clan Donald.  Descended from John Sprangach (the Bold) MacDonald, a son of Angus Mor MacDonald, lord of Islay, who was active in the early fourteenth century, he appears to have been a beneficiary of his family’s adherence to the Bruce party in the Scottish civil war after 1306 and acquired significant properties from the MacDonalds’ Balliol-supporting MacDougall kinsmen.[49]  His son, Angus, appears to have briefly achieved a leading position amongst the MacDonald kin during the renewed Scottish civil war between the supporters of the Balliol and Bruce families in the late 1330s/early 1340s, receiving in c.1341 a charter from King David II which nominally awarded to him all of Islay, Kintyre, Gigha, Jura, Colonsay, Morvern and two ouncelands in Mull.[50]  The grant was never effective, but if it had been it would have placed the MacIans in possession of what came to form the territorial heartland of the MacDonalds as Lords of the Isles.[51]  The first member of the family who has made a significant impact in surviving records is John, grandson of John Sprangach, who witnessed a charter of his kinsman, Donald lord of the Isles, issued at Rosemarkie on 16 August 1420.[52]  He appears again in 1433, when along with his kinsmen Alexander MacDonald of Islay, lord of the Isles, and Donald Balloch MacDonald, and the island magnates Lachlan Maclean of Moy, Roderick Macleod of Lewis and John Macleod of Dunvegan, he supplicated the pope for permission to have a portable altar.[53]  This group reveals the tightness of a social and political network within the Lordship of the Isles.  He may still have been active in 1463, when a ‘John son of Alexander of the Isles’ witnessed a charter by John earl of Ross and lord of the Isles to his illegitimate brother, Celestine of Lochalsh, and his legitimate male heirs by Finvola, daughter of Lachlan Maclean of Duart, of the lands of Sleat in Skye,[54] but his son, Alexander, appears to have succeeded by 1456.[55]

The close integration of the MacIans into the political community of the northern part of the Lordship is underscored by the marriage in 1443 of John’s son, Alexander, to Anna, daughter of John Macleod of Glenelg.[56]  This marriage may have marked the emergence of Alexander as a significant figure in his own right, for his subsequent career spanned around the next fifty years (he was dead shortly before 1 August 1492).[57]  He was clearly a man of political weight and social reputation, featuring as a pledge for his Mackintosh neighbours and as a witness to charter acts issued at locations spread from Aros and Islay to Edinburgh.  In a charter, wrongly dated to 28 June 1409 but datable to before 1475, issued by John earl of Ross and lord of the Isles at Aros Castle of Mull, Alexander witnessed the heritable settlement of a broad swathe of properties in the Isles on John’s brother, Hugh lord of Sleat in Skye and any male children of Hugh’s by his wife, Alexander’s daughter Fynvola.[58]  It was conceded that if Fynvola should die without producing a male heir, the lands would fall to any legitimate male child of a second wife, but that Alexander would be one of the close kinsmen and councillors of Earl John who would advise on the choice of a future wife.  Alexander MacIan was clearly a major figure in the lordship of the Isles and was actively manoeuvring to further strengthen his influence in the northern territories of the lordship through closer bonds with the important new cadet lines of the MacDonald kindred that were being established in that territory.  This act was confirmed by James IV in November 1495 as part of his general effort to regularise landholding arrangements that had been set in place by John lord of the Isles before his forfeiture in 1493 and give some stability to the region.

It is not known when Alexander died, but his son John was named as a witness to a charter issued at Oronsay on 1 August 1492 in which he was styled as Lord of Ardnamurchan.[59]  Although he was also referred to in that charter as one of lords of the council of the Lord of the Isles, John MacIan was quick to recognise the way that the political tide was flowing in summer 1493 when John MacDonald, lord of the Isles, was formally forfeited in parliament and the Lordship effectively suppressed.  When King James came west in August 1493 with a powerful following led by the principal political figures in his administration and based himself at Dunstaffnage in Lorne, MacIan and his associate Maclean of Lochbuie were amongst the first West Coast chieftains to make their formal submission to him, and received in return a confirmation of the lands and offices that they had held from the Lord of the Isles.[60]  MacIan was an influential and ambitious man, factors which had made him an attractive associate to be cultivated by the Campbells of Argyll as they extended their network through territory formerly dominated by the MacDonald lords of the Isles, but in 1493-5 his father-in-law Archibald Campbell, 2nd earl of Argyll, had been politically marginalised and was significant by his absence from the royal expedition.[61]  As husband of one of Argyll’s daughters, MacIan could ultimately expect to – and did – benefit from his father-in-law’s political prominence in the administration of King James IV, while Argyll would use his son-in-law’s regional influence to help him in enforcing crown policy in the Isles, but in 1493 with his father-in-law temporarily eclipsed MacIan was building bridges directly with the young king and the clique of powerful Lowland lords around him.

Opportunity to prove his worth to James in the west quickly followed, when Alexander MacDonald of Lochalsh, the leading adult member of the MacDonald kindred and after the young grandson of the last Lord, John, the most obvious contender to lead a rebellion for the revival of the Lordship, rose in revolt.  Details of the event are obscure, but it appears that despite conciliatory moves towards him on the part of James and his councillors – including his knighting by James – Alexander may have been unable to risk the consequences to his personal reputation and following by simply accepting the fait accompli of 1493.  An attack on Ross at some stage in 1494 appears to have been repulsed and apparently shortly afterwards he was killed on the island of Oronsay by MacIan.[62]  It has been suggested that MacIan, for whom there was no obvious personal advantage – indeed, more the risk of loss of status – in the restoration of the Lordship, was employed as ‘a promising hatchet-man’ in the Isles to do the government’s job.[63]  It is likely that his reward was the reconfirmation of his office of bailie of Islay that he had held from John, lord of the Isles, plus a substantial number of properties on the island, granted to him by royal charter of 14 June 1494.[64]

This confirmation of John MaIan’s position as a royal agent in Islay may have been the catalyst to drive into rebellion another MacDonald lord who had submitted to James in 1493 and been rewarded with confirmations of his possessions augmented with new lands and titles.  John MacDonald of Dunyvaig in Islay and the Glens of Antrim was the leading figure in the southern branch of the wider MacDonald kindred.  He may have hoped to build up his position to a considerable degree by filling the void left by the suppression of the Lordship, but the king’s promotion of MacIan’s interests and the decision to strengthen royal castles in Kintyre in early 1494 sent a signal to John MacDonald that the king did not trust him and was actively undermining his position.  The result was rebellion.  Although MacDougall suggests that the rebellion might not have been suppressed until 1499, royal operations in the west in 1495 suggest that the affair was ended speedily in 1494.  Again it was MacIan who performed invaluable service in the suppression of the rebellion, capturing Sir John MacDonald of Dunyvaig and the Glens and three of his sons at the old seat of the Lordship at Finlaggan on Islay and sending them east to Edinburgh where the king eventually had them hanged together on the same gallows at Boroughmuir.[65]

It was shortly after that event that Mingary make its first appearance in the surviving historical record, when on 18 May 1495 King James IV issued a Great Seal charter to John Stirling, son of Sir William Stirling, in respect of the lands and barony of Keir in Perthshire.[66]  The charter settled the barony, which Sir William had personally resigned into the king’s hands, on John as his son and heir, resignation and bestowal apparently taking place when all parties involved were at the ‘Castle of Meware in Ardnamurchan’.  The king’s presence at Mingary was part of his wider efforts to build a new political establishment in the Isles after the 1493-4 upheavals.  It was no random event; planning for a campaign had commenced in 1494 and over the winter and early spring of 1494-5 a fleet and the supplies needed for operations had been assembled at Dumbarton.[67]  On 5 May 1495, the king embarked at Dumbarton for the voyage round Kintyre and into the Isles, reaching Mingary by 18 May at the latest.  This venture was not just intended to ‘daunt’ opponents and would-be rebels but also to permit James to demonstrate his appreciation for the efforts of his committed supporters in the region and distribute the rewards for that support.

The stage-management of the 1495 event is unmistakable and its distinctly propagandistic significance as a clear statement of royal authority and favour-showing should not be doubted.  It was a truly glittering assembly of the most powerful men in the realm who accompanied James: Robert Blacader, archbishop of Glasgow, Archibald Douglas 5th earl of Angus (the chancellor), Alexander 2nd lord Hume (the chamberlain), Archibald 2nd earl of Argyll (Master of the Royal Household), John, lord Drummond (Justiciar), George Shaw, abbot of Paisley (Treasurer), and a group of leading gentlemen of the king’s council and household.[68]  No documented record of the fact survives, but it is likely that many of the heads of the leading kindreds from the adjacent mainland and island districts came to make their formal submission to the king, and it has been pointed out that before the end of the year Hector Maclean of Duart had received a crown confirmation of his possession of the twin castle of Cairn-na-Burgh in the Treshnish islands and the castles of Dunchonnail and ‘Dunkerd’ in the Garvellachs, Alan Cameron, Captain of Clan Cameron, was confirmed in possession of Strome Castle at the mouth of Loch Carron in Wester Ross, and Gille-eoin McNeill received confirmation of his possession of all of Barra and other lands in the Uists.[69]  The dating of the issue of the royal charters to these chiefs in the period between mid August and mid November 1495 suggests that James and his councillors may have used the visit to Mingary as an opportunity to assess their value and reliability before committing to a course of action that increased royal dependence on them.

There was no question of the loyalty to the crown and significance for royal plans for strengthening the king’s authority in the west of the MacIan lineage, yet there is no indication that James displayed his personal gratitude in any way other than choosing to base himself at Mingary.  MacIan had performed invaluable service to the king in the capture of John and his sons at Finlaggan, but it could be argued that he had already received reward for his service through the June 1494 charter; it was over four years more before he received further formal rewards from King James for that conspicuous support at a time of crisis.  Instead, in the immediate aftermath of this king’s personal display of favour to MacIan at Mingary and the charters to Maclean, Cameron and McNeill, the Lords of Council led by Archibald earl of Argyll, whose star was in the ascendant again after his eclipse in 1493-5, passed legislation designed to make clan chiefs responsible for enforcing legal summonses issued against their dependents, or face legal proceedings themselves for failure to do so.  It was an act intended to impose the rule of law and curb disorder – Argyll reporting that five leading chiefs (including MacIan of Ardnamurchan) had already given financial pledges of their good behaviour[70] – but it had the opposite effect in that it made it difficult for as yet uncommitted chiefs to persuade their yet-more-unconvinced clansmen to accept the reality of Scottish royal power.  This more coercive policy on the part of the government was followed up in 1498 when the king conducted a second campaign in the west, this time focussed on Kintyre, where he was building a new castle at Loch Kilkerran (Campbelltown) and extending the old royal castle at Tarbert.[71]  James and a major gathering of his council waited at Kilkerran for the arrival of large numbers of Islesmen to make their formal submissions to him, as may have happened at Mingary three years earlier, but few came.  MacIan, however, may again have been one of those who did, for when the king made a further very brief foray into the outer Firth of Clyde and Kintyre district in March 1499,[72] he was rewarded by James for having made a formal submission to him of various properties and offices in the peninsula.  At Tarbert Castle on 29 March 1499 he was finally given recognition of the services that he had performed in the suppression of the 1494 rising and for his surrender of the lands of mid Kintyre and the office of steward there, receiving a crown charter of lands in Sunart, Jura, and an extensive group of properties in the Middleward of Islay.[73]  On the same occasion he received a second charter granting him the lands of Ardnamurchan with the ‘castle and fortalice of Mingary’, to be held by him of the king for the same – unspecified – service as he had held them of John lord of the Isles before 1493.[74]  The opposition to the new royal policy of assertiveness which the poor attendance of clan chiefs at Kilkerran in early summer 1498 had revealed may have convinced James and his councillors – including Argyll – of the need to give another clear signal of their support for one of the crown’s most consistent friends in the region; it was not a distinction which endeared MacIan to many of his fellows in the Gaelic west.

Over the following years, MacIan proved very to be the most loyal and able lieutenant of Argyll, to whom James entrusted the task of imposing strong government on the Isles.  Communication between MacIan and the king increased notably from 1500 onwards, possibly reflecting the new rapprochement that had been achieved in March 1499.  A ‘priest of Makaanis’ received generous cash gifts from James in February 1500/1, and May and June 1501,[75] in May being described as coming from MacIan, presumably with information from the Isles.  In June 1501, the king sent a man west ‘with writingis of the Kingis, and to bring ansueir agane’.[76]  In April and July 1502 and August 1503 it was ‘a man of Makanis’ that brought news,[77] while on 16 April 1503 a cash gift was given to a man who ‘brocht lettrez fra Makane furth of the Ilis to the king’.[78]  While the real beneficiary in this process was Argyll, MacIan power also spread, largely at the expense of neighbours like the Macleans of Duart and Lochbuie.  Resentment at the seemingly inexorable rise of the MacIans was one factor that drove the Macleans to join the 1504 rebellion in the Isles in support of the bid by Donald Dubh MacDonald, grandson of the last Lord, to restore the Lordship of the Isles.  MacIan rose higher still in royal favour as a result of his activity on the king’s behalf in the suppression of Donald Dubh’s rebellion between 1504 and 1506.  James was clearly receiving alarming news of Donald Dubh’s plans in February 1504 when he sent letters by ‘ane man to pas in the Ilis to Makane’, and again in April in the hands of a man called ‘Stratoun’.[79]  It was probably in one of these exchanges that formal instructions were sent to MacIan commissioning him to harry the lands of the rebel lords and to capture, if possible, the forfeited men.[80]  Letters (contents unspecified) sent by him to James and messages returned to him in June, July and November 1504 and March 1505, for example, almost certainly contained intelligence concerning the rebellion.[81]  The post-1499 relationship was clearly paying dividends for the king.

There were several signs of favour from James to MacIan in this period.  In November 1505, the Treasurer accounted for payments totalling £23 16s 6d spent on buying damask and cloth for a gown, red hose and new shoes for the loyal MacIan, and a further £4 10s on cloth for his priest, who served as a messenger between the west and the king’s court.[82]  The greatest sign of his standing with the king, however, came on 19 November 1506, when John MacIan was confirmed ‘for his good service’ in possession of various blocks of property in Islay and Jura that his grandfather John, son of Alexander MacIan, had held in the mid-fifteenth century of Alexander earl of Ross and lord of the Isles or Donald MacDonald, lord of Dunyvaig in Islay and the Glens of Antrim, but which had been taken into the king’s hands following the forfeiture of John lord of the Isles in 1493 and the treason and death of Sir John MacDonald of Dunyvaig, son of Donald.[83]  A week later, MacIan possession of Mingary and the lands of Ardnamurchan was confirmed heritably by James IV on 25 November 1505 as part of general confirmation and ratification of all previous royal charters and grants in favour of John MacIan.[84]  At that time, MacIan lordship stretched from Islay (where John held the office of bailie for the king’s lands there) and Jura, where his landed heritage had just been restored by royal charter, to Ardnamurchan and Sunart, with as the centrepieces of these properties ‘the houses and fortalices of Castlemeary in Ardnamurchan and Donavagane (Dunyvaig) in Islay’.

After the end of Donald Dubh’s rising in 1506 the level of communication between MacIan and the king fell away to a considerable extent.  Only two letters to MacIan are explicitly recorded in the last seven years of the reign, one sent in October 1507 and the other in April 1508, but payments to MacIan’s priest in June 1512 and February 1513, and to one of his servants in July 1513, were probably in respect of personally-delivered messages.[85]  Gift exchange between the two men, however, suggests that the personal bonds between them were being maintained.  In December 1507, MacIan sent James two horses, with a third delivered in March 1508, while in 1512 the king sent him four saddles as a gift.[86]

Weak and distracted central government in the immediate aftermath of the death of James IV and so many of his leading councillors and magnates at Flodden in 1513 provided an opportunity for MacIan’s enemies in the west to seek to turn the tables on him.  In 1515, John MacIan was one of the principal targets of a rebellion raised by Donald MacDonald of Lochalsh and Alexander MacDonald of Dunyvaig and the Glens, who were seeking revenge for John’s part in the slaying of their fathers.  Alexander of Dunyvaig had ambitions to restore the Lordship of the Isles but Donald of Lochalsh’s principal motivation appears to have been straightforward personal animosity towards MacIan.  Mingary was apparently besieged on this occasion but does not appear to have fallen, although the surrounding district was systematically ravaged.  A fresh rising in 1517 was even more explicitly directed against MacIan and his lands and a complaint laid before the Lords of Council in Public Affairs narrated how Mingary had been ‘destroyed’ and the surrounding district laid waste by Alexander of Dunyvaig and his associates.[87]  John survived that attack, but two years later he and two of his sons, John and Angus, were slain at Creag an Airgid.[88]  A violent opportunist who had built a personal empire from the ruins of the Lordship of the Isles, capitalising on James IV’s need for a willing and effective local agent who was not averse to spilling blood, his end was perhaps seen as fitting by those of his rivals who still lived.  His passing, however, represented the beginning of the end for the MacIans, whose heritage was to become a coveted prize over the next three decades.

1.5    The MacIan Inheritance and the Rise of Campbell Power 1519-1612

Following John MacIan’s slaying in 1519, Colin Campbell, 3rd earl of Argyll, John’s brother-in-law, moved swiftly to secure a royal grant of the wardship of the lands and castles of Ardnamurchan.[89]  Alongside this, the Earl received the gift of the ward of his late brother-in-law’s other offices including the captaincy of Dunyvaig Castle, together with the right to arrange the marriage of his young nephew, Alexander MacIan.[90]  The succession of a minor to the MacIan lordship came at a critical time in the politics of the western seaboard, where a series of powerful clan chieftains and would-be royal agents were jostling for dominance.  The eldest of John’s sons by his Campbell wife, Donald, had apparently been slain in Ireland in c.1499, leaving a young son, Alexander.[91]  He, however, appears to have been set to one side in favour of his equally young uncle, also called Alexander.  One of this Alexander’s sisters, Catherine, was married to Alexander MacDonald of Islay, who subsequently became embroiled with Argyll in a dispute that appears to have had the MacIan inheritance at its heart and that may have been a factor in triggering the MacDonald-led rebellion in the Isles of 1528-31.[92]  Although MacDonald appears to have gained the advantage in the initial round of the struggle to control the MacIan inheritance, following Earl Colin’s death in 1529 his son Archibald, 4th earl of Argyll, showed equal determination to extend his influence within MacIan territory.  Although the new Earl of Argyll was effectively removed from his leading role as crown agent in the western seaboard districts – in large part replaced by the erstwhile rebel and Argyll’s rival, Alexander MacDonald of Islay[93] – in 1534 he managed to secure a marriage contract for his cousin, Mariota MacIan, the sister of Alexander and Catherine, to John MacDonald of Moidart, Captain of Clanranald.  Four years later Alexander MacDonald of Islay, Alexander MacIan and John MacDonald of Moidart were all dead and Mariota had become heiress to Islay, Ardnamurchan and Sunart.[94]

Mariota’s inheritance of the MacIan lordship triggered a crisis.  The non-entries (fine for the failure of an heir to properly take up their inheritance and pay the entry-fine due to the crown) stood at eighteen times the value of her heritage, being calculated for the twelve years of her brother’s wardship after the death of their father and the six years that had elapsed since then, totalling £7747.[95]  With no hope of being able to raise this sum, Mariota, with consent of her new husband Robert Robertson of Struan, resigned her heritage into the king’s hands with the intention that it was to be settled on her cousin, Argyll.[96]  He, however, seems equally to have been unable to pay any composition for this massive non-entry charge and received no royal confirmation of possession.  With a royal garrison established in Dunyvaig since the Isles’ rebellion, the MacDonald of Islay heir in ward in Dunbar Castle, and the only other possible MacIan heir Alexander Mac Donald MacIan passed over and apparently in exile in Ireland, the king was able in August 1541 to buy out Argyll’s interest in the MacIan lordship for £5000.[97]  The effect was to convert the lordships of Ardnamurchan and Sunart, together with the MacIan heritage in the islands, into a further component of the crown lands in Argyll and the Isles that James V had been building up.  The king’s sudden death in December 1542 brought to an end any plans to develop on that holding or to exploit it more rigorously.  As the regency government for his infant daughter Queen Mary struggled to secure the support of key provincial nobles, Argyll was soon poised to pocket the £5000 received from the late king and reacquire physical possession of the MacIan heritage.

A first attempt to regain control of the MacIan lordship by a member of the family appears to have come in 1545 when Alexander MacDonald MacIan emerged as a significant member of the council clustered around Donald Dubh MacDonald in Ireland.  Donald Dubh had escaped from custody in 1543 and was rallying support for a bid to recover the Lordship of the Isles when he died suddenly in 1545.  With hopes for restoration through a MacDonald-led rebellion against the royal settlement of the Isles dashed, Alexander MacDonald MacIan seems to have opted instead for an attempt to gain his heritage through entering into Queen Mary’s peace.  In 1548, he was admitted to the Queen’s peace and received a remission for his past crimes.[98]  It was, however, not he who profited from the regency government’s need to curry favour with powerful regional interests, but his kinsman Argyll.  On 20 September 1550, the regency government of the young Queen Mary formally yielded up to Archibald, 4th earl of Argyll, royal interest in ‘the lands of Ardnamurchan with the castle and fortalice of Castell-Mayerie, sheriffdom of Inverness’, which had been resigned twelve years earlier into the hands of the queen’s father, King James V, by Mariota MacIan, the daughter and heiress of John MacIan.[99]  No formal record of that resignation survives in the records of James V’s reign.  This act came a week after instructions were issued under the Privy Seal for the drawing up of a royal charter of confirmation of a charter of alienation that had been given by Archibald, earl of Argyll, to James McConnell of Dunyvaig.  Argyll’s charter conveyed the eighty merklands of Ardnamurchan with the castle of Mingary and all pertinents including woods, fisheries, mills and multures.[100] 

Despite the hostility between the two MacDonald cadet lines in the early 1500s, ties between the MacIans and MacDonalds of Dunyvaig had been restored by the marriage of Catherine MacIan into the Dunyvaig line and strengthened during the period of MacDonald of Dunyvaig dominance of the MacIan heritage in the 1530s.  The strength of the relationship was revealed in the course of the feud between the MacDonalds of Dunyvaig and the Macleans of Duart in the 1580s, when the MacIans aligned with their Islay kinsmen.  It is somewhat ironic that in the midst of the feud both John MacIan and Lachlan Maclean of Duart were named recipients of the directive issued by James VI’s government on 29 July 1587 that set out arrangements for ‘the quieting and keeping in obedience of the disordered subjects, inhabitants of the borders, highlands and islands’,[101] for in 1588 John MacIan was seized under trust by the Macleans who then proceeded to besiege Mingary with the aid of a force of Spanish seamen and marines from the Armada galleon the Florencia, which was anchored in Tobermory Bay.  Despite this professional assistance and the superior military technology at their disposal, after three days’ of siege Maclean was forced to abandon his attack in the face of a muster of local clansmen.[102]  In the end, when it was clear that no advantage lay in continuing with the feud, the hostages and prisoners held by both sides were exchanged and MacIan gained his liberty before the end of 1588.[103]

After the 1588 attack on Mingary, there is a lull in record information relating to MacIan and Ardnamurchan until 1593, when John MacIan appears as one of the figures involved in the widespread disturbances that had rocked the Highlands revolving around the interlinked murders of the Earl of Moray and John Campbell of Calder.[104]  On 16 March 1593, Privy Council issued instructions lifting charges against a long list of men who had been put to the horn and arranging for them to be readmitted to the king’s peace.  It is a diverse list ranging from the leaders of the party responsible for Moray’s murder in February 1592 through to notable ‘recusants’ suspected of conspiracies against the king and the Protestant political-religious establishment, and various Highland chieftains whose men had been involved in feuds or raids that were deemed to be linked to the Moray’s highly political slaying.  Amongst the men pardoned was John MacIan of Ardnamurchan.[105]  No sooner had he been readmitted to the king’s peace than in June 1593 John ‘MacLan’ of Ardnamurchan, along with Angus MacConnell of Dunyvaig and the Glens, Donald MacDonald of Sleat, and their associates, received a summons for treason and lese majeste against the king, initiating a process of forfeiture, apparently related to suspicion of involvement in the plots led by Francis Stewart, earl of Bothwell.[106]  The final resolution of this episode in MacIan history is obscure.

Across this period from 1550, the MacIans were supposedly de jue occupants of Mingary and Ardnamurchan under the superior lordship of the Earl of Argyll, but there is little sign that the award of superiority to the 4th Earl of Argyll had been effective.  It was still ostensibly as a MacIan-held property that in 1608 Lord Ochiltree – enforcing James VI’s policy of pacification of the western Highlands and Islands – took assurances that Mingary would be surrendered on demand to the officers of the crown.[107]  In the early 1600s, however, Argyll began moves to convert what may have been nominal superiority into actual possession, commencing in 1602 with a contract between himself and John mac Alasdair MacIan which involved the resignation to Argyll of all the Ardnamurchan properties.[108]  In return, Argyll restored MacIan as his vassal for annual payment of one merk feu-duty.  It seems from the terms of the contract that despite the resignation of the crown lands to the 4th Earl and James V’s earlier buying out of the Campbell interest in 1541 that the MacIans had remained as direct crown tenants holding the feuferme of the royal lands in Ardnamurchan.  Although the 1602 arrangement seemed to offer MacIan security of possession of the castle and lands, it quickly became clear that the Earl had other ideas as he secured royal confirmation and ratification of his legal position with respect to Ardnamurchan.  Confirmation of the feuferme settlement of crown lands in Argyll to the earl was given on 30 March 1610, with Ardnamurchan included in that act and with a breakdown of the various components of the lordship given.  Amongst these were the 3½ merklands of ‘Meare’ or Mingary, although there is no specific mention of the castle.[109]  It was a short step from this point to extinguishing MacIan possession and Argyll’s ambition to consolidate his hold on the MacIan territories led in 1612 to the 7th Earl of Argyll’s issuing of a commission to his brother-in-law Donald Campbell of Barbreck-Lochow to take the castle of Mingary into his hands and place keepers in it at the earl’s expense.[110]  After some 250 years as the centrepiece of the MacIan lordship and the symbol of their power and status, the castle had been prised from their hands.

1.6    Civil War to the Jacobite Era

The 1612 commission was, of course, resisted by the MacIans, who sought to regain the castle by force.  The result was a brief episode of violence leading to the effective elimination of the remaining leadership of the family by a group of Campbell lairds, who enjoyed the backing of Privy Council.[111]  The commission was converted into tenure by a charter dated at Inverary on 30 December 1615 and confirmed by the king in July 1619, which confirmed Donald Campbell in possession of Mingary, Kilchoan and Clash, together with the keepership of the castle.[112]  On 9 March 1625, Archibald Campbell, Lord Lorne, son of the 7th Earl of Argyll (who had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1617 and was living in exile on the Continent), received a charter from James VI confirming him in possession of the barony of Ardnamurchan.  The following year, Donald Campbell received a charter from Lord Lorne which granted him the lands of Ardnamurchan, again converting his tenure under commission into effective possession under Lorne’s superiority rather than that of his disgraced and exiled father.[113]  On 28 June 1633, Lorne received an act from King Charles I which set out the bounds of his authority in the West Highlands, Ardnamurchan being among the lands confirmed as forming part of his heritable jurisdiction.[114]

In August 1643 when the Covenanter government established the Committees of War in the shires, which were to be responsible for organising the military resources of the districts, Sir Donald Campbell of Ardnamurchan was one of the leading figures in the Argyllshire committee.[115]  His position, however, was soon to be challenged by the representative of the McConnell/MacDonald of Dunyvaig line, to whom Ardnamurchan had been awarded by the Campbells before 1550.  In 1644, the Supreme Council of Confederate Ireland – the leadership of the mainly Roman Catholic party that had rebelled against Protestant English rule in Ireland – decided to intervene in Scotland in support of the Royalist adherents of King Charles I.  To head this intervention, the Confederate Council chose Alasdair MacColla MacDonald.  He brought an army of around 2000 Irish Macdonnells across from Ulster with the combined aim of supporting the Royalist forces commanded by the Marquis of Montrose and recovering property to which his lineage laid claim from the hands of the Marquis of Argyll, who was the principal military figure in the Covenanter opposition to Charles I in West Highland Scotland.  MacColla’s force landed in Ardnamurchan, making a bold statement of intent to recover possession of lands that he regarded as rightfully the heritage of his line, as the first stage in a truly remarkable military campaign that saw them criss-cross Scotland winning a string of victories over Argyll and other Covenanting leaders, but which ended in defeat in 1645 and withdrawal first into Argyll and subsequently back to Ireland (where he was eventually defeated and killed in 1647).

The initial landing in Ardnamurchan had been intended to provide him with a bridgehead and a secure base was obtained when his men quickly took possession of Mingary.[116]  An account of the castle’s capture was recorded by Patrick Gordon of Ruthven in his history of the Civil War in Scotland, A Short Abridgement of Britane’s Distemper.  This account has been reproduced in RCAHMS Argyll vol 3[117] but merits repeating here for the detail that it provides:

Hee forced the stronge castell of Migarie by a desperate assailt with meir resolution, for they had nether cannon to batter nor pittard to blow up, nor scalled ladders to ascend the walles, and yet, notwithstanding the incessant shoures of muscatel balles that came from the walles, with the continuall playeing of there other ordinance, they regarded it no more then if they had been snowe balles; mairching and adwanceing speedily till they ware at the foote of the wall, then fyreing the gates and heaping on all sorts of combustible stuffe round about, they set fyre to the castell, maintaineing the fewell till they within were almost chockit; and to add more malour to those confounded defenders, the continuall thundering of muscate and cannon did so shaike the rocke as thair wall [well] went dry, and haueing some punchiones of aill, they ar forced to poure them doune aboue the gate where they were most infested with fyre; at length, finding no intermission, nor end of there enemies assailt night nor day, thrist, watching and wiriness forced them to yeeld.  This castell he maned [manned] and wictualled for a yeare from the prices [prizes] he had takin.[118]

A Latin account of the castle’s fall was produced by Giovanni Battista Rinuccini, Cardinal-Archbishop of Fermo, papal nuncio to the Irish Confederates from 1645 until 1649, but it offers no additional detail.[119]

This seizure of the castle did not pass uncontested and there followed a naval battle with five Campbell-owned warships, a conflict to which a seventeenth-century warship wreck recently discovered close to the castle probably belongs.[120]  On MacColla’s departure for the campaign in the Lowlands, he left a garrison in Mingary and the castle remained in Royalist hands until 1647 when it was retaken by the Covenanting general, David Leslie.[121]  Amongst prisoners whom MacColla left in the castle were three Church of Scotland ministers and their wives who had been captured in a vessel heading for Ireland that the Ulster force had encountered whilst sailing north.  The account of their imprisonment suggests that few comforts had remained in the castle after the MacDonnell assault on Mingary, a position worsened during a seven-week siege by a Campbell force, during which the only drinking-water available was from rainwater that gathered on parts of the wall-head.  In September 1644, the garrison released the ministers’ wives and some other prisoners, but retained the ministers whom they hoped to exchange for MacColla’s father, Coll Ciotach, and brothers, who were prisoners of Argyll.  Before the end of the siege, unfortunately, two of the ministers had died, and the third remained a prisoner in the castle until released by negotiation in May 1645.[122]

As Scotland was again put into a posture for war in 1648, and then again in early 1649 following the execution of Charles I by the English parliamentarians, Sir Donald was again nominated to the committee for organising the military resources of Argyllshire.[123]  Given that MacColla’s garrison had only been expelled from Mingary in 1647, it is unknown what the condition of the castle and the Ardnamurchan lands generally was at that date.  Given reports of the condition of other Campbell territories following the defeat of MacColla’s army, it is unlikely that Sir Donald would have been in much position to make an effective or substantial contribution to the war effort.[124]  Sir Donald Campbell died in 1651 and it appears that the castle and lands reverted at that time to the Campbells of Argyll.

Considering Mingary’s still not inconsequential strategic significance, demonstrated as recently as the 1640s, it is striking that the castle does not appear to have been considered of any importance during the Cromwellian occupation of Scotland in the 1650s.  With major English garrisons established in massive new fortifications at Ayr and Inverness from which to ‘daunt’ the western Highlands and Atlantic seaboard, and government squadrons patrolling western waters, there may have been no significant threat perceived from the owners of the medieval fortifications that still studded the coastline and islands.  Like many former places of strength, Mingary appeared to be facing a future of quiet insignificance as the somewhat old-fashioned estate-centre of a property held by a largely absentee landlord.

There was a flurry of activity concerning Mingary in the aftermath of the overthrow of the regime of King James VII and II in April 1689.  Although the main Jacobite opposition to the new regime of King William III and Queen Mary II had been stalled with the death of Viscount Dundee at Killiecrankie on 27 July and then repulsed at the battle of Dunkeld on 21 August, a significant Jacobite force remained at large in the Highlands until its final defeat at Cromdale on Speyside in May 1690.  Until May 1690, therefore, there was a possibility that the counter-revolutionary forces in the Highlands might successfully consolidate their position and provide a base from which the exiled James VII might recover his position.  It was in this context that on 21 December 1689, the staunchly Jacobite Robert Stewart of Appin wrote to James Seton, 4th earl of Dunfermline, who had been a leading member of Dundee’s rising and had fought at Killiecrankie, concerning an order from one Brigadier Cannon to Campbell of Lochnell to ‘render up’ the house of Mingary.  Appin requested that Dunfermline advise the Brigadier against pursuing this action so as ‘not to make ennimies … and no particular business should make men doe that quhich is not just for Lochneill swears to me that he will be as loyal as anny of our selves’.[125]  Whether or not Lochnell had any Jacobite sympathies is unclear, but there is no evidence that Mingary became a Jacobite outpost on the west coast.  Indeed, after the emergency had subsided, in 1696 Archibald, 10th earl of Argyll confirmed Lochnell possession of Mingary by a formal infeftment that granted Ardnamurchan and the castle to Alexander Campbell, 6th of Lochnell, and his son Duncan, unlikely had their loyalty been in any way suspect.  It is RCAHMS’ view that one of those men built – or at least remodelled – the present north courtyard range, and it is certainly the view of Geoffrey Stell that the north range as it stands belongs to a pre-1715 development and, in his words, ‘undoubtedly was a barrack-block and in this case may have been Campbell-built’.[126]

Ardnamurchan was purchased from the Campbells in 1723 by Alexander Murray, son of Sir David Murray of Stanhope, who embarked on widespread improvements of the Ardnamurchan estate.[127] As summarised by RCAHMS, on taking over the property he undertook repairs mainly on the roof of the castle, where he appears to have lived on occasion.  His ambitious investments, however, yielded little profit and by 1743 the estate was heavily burdened with debt.  It was possibly on account of charges on the property that the Campbells appear to have reacquired an interest in Mingary, and in August 1745 when Charles Edward Stuart landed in Moidart at the start of the Jacobite rebellion of that year, the castle was garrisoned by Donald Campbell of Auchindoun, the factor of the Duke of Argyll’s Ardnamurchan properties.[128]  An initially small garrison was strengthened to fifty-nine officers and men in January 1746, some of whom were involved in harrying of the properties of Jacobite landowner in Morvern and district in the months before Culloden.[129]  Just over twenty years later, possession passed from the Campbells to the Riddell family, but they do not appear to have been regularly resident at Mingary.[130]  Nevertheless, the north range of the castle, described as of ‘three stories in the modern style, the broadest part of the old wall forming the back’, with floors, rafters and boards of the roof [ ] all of massive oak, the slates of an extraordinary size, fastened by oak pins’, appears to have been largely intact in 1838 when the New Statistical Account for Ardnamurchan was written.[131]

1.7    Conclusion

From the foregoing discussion, it emerges that there is far more to say about Mingary from the historical record than has appeared in earlier analyses.  It remains the case, however, that the fundamental questions of original construction date and identity of the builders remains conjectural.  From the late thirteenth-century ownership of the lordship of Ardnamurchan by Alexander MacDougall of Lorne, it can be suggested that the castle formed a northern extension of MacDougall power reflecting the progressive expansion of their domain north and west from their mainland base from the last quarter of the twelfth century and at an accelerating pace in the first half of the thirteenth century.  The survival of thirteenth-century architectural details in the curtain wall permits some confidence in assigning a general thirteenth-century date for the construction of the main enclosure and the buildings that originally were ranged round its courtyard and, given the excavation results from Dunstaffnage, that work should probably be seen as mid- to later-thirteenth century rather than earlier.

There is no historical record that casts any light on phases of building in the lifetime of the castle, the long period of MacIan ownership in particular lacking in evidence for developments to address issues created by the changing status and political aspirations of that family.  We have records of physical attacks on the building from the early 1500s onwards but nothing concrete to enable any of the phases of alteration to the building to be linked to post-attack reconstruction until the 1640s.  Even the dates of construction of the existing courtyard buildings cannot be fixed with certainty.  One detail which does emerge from the seventeenth-century records, however, is that the castle suffered problems of water shortage.  The description of the 1644 siege and its aftermath refers to the draining of the well through the repeated shocks of the bombardment, possibly indicating that the water-supply came from a cistern rather than from a spring.

2      Bibliography

2.1    Unpublished Primary Sources and Reports

National Records of Scotland, Papers of the Leslie Family, Earls of Leven and Melville: Jacobite Papers GD26/8/64.

Wessex Archaeology, Mingary, Ardnamurchan, The Sound of Mull, unpublished Designated Site Assessment for Historic Scotland, 2007.

2.2    Primary Sources

·         Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, eds T Dickson and J B Paul (Edinburgh, 1877-1916).

·         Acts of the Lords of Council in Civil Causes, 1496-1501, eds G Neilson and H Paton (Edinburgh, 1918).

·         Acts of the Lords of Council in Public Affairs 1501-1554, (Edinburgh, 1932).

·         The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol 1, ed T Thomson (London, 1814).

·         Campbell, H, (ed), Abstracts of the Particular and General Registers of Sasines for Argyll, Bute and Dumbarton, otherwise known as the Argyll Sasines (Edinburgh, 1933-4).

·         Dunlop, A I, and MacLauchlan, D, (eds), Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, volume IV, 1433-1447 (Glasgow, 1983).

·         Fotheringham, J, (ed), The Diplomatic Correspondence of Jean de Montereul, 1645-8, volume 2 (Scottish History Society, 1899).

·         Gordon, P, A Short Abridgement of Britane’s Distemper (Spalding Club, 1844).

·         Munro, J, and Munro, R W, (eds), Acts of the Lords of the Isles, (Scottish History Society, 1986).

·         Ninth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.  Part II, Appendix and Index (London, 1884).

·         The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K M Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2012).

·         Regesta Regum Scottorum, vi, The Acts of David II, ed B Webster (Edinburgh, 1982).

·         The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol 4, 1548-1556, ed J Beveridge (Edinburgh, 1952).

·         Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, eds J M Thomson and others (Edinburgh, 1882-1914).

·         Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum, ed M Livingtsone, vol I (Edinburgh, 1908).

2.3    Secondary Works

·         Cameron, J, James V: The Personal Rule, 1528-1542 (East Linton, 1998).

·         Campbell, A, A History of Clan Campbell, Vol 2: From Flodden to the Restoration, (Edinburgh, 2002).

·         Cruden, S, The Scottish Castle, 1st edition (Edinburgh, 1960), 3rd edition (Edinburgh, 1981). 

·         Donaldson, G, Scotland: James V to James VII (Edinburgh, 1965).

·         Dunbar, J, ‘The medieval architecture of the Scottish Highlands’, in L Maclean of Dochgarroch (ed), The Middle Ages in the Highlands (Inverness, 1981), 38-70.

·         Duncan, A A M, and Brown, A L, ‘Argyll and the Isles in the Earlier Middle Ages’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, XC (1956-7), 192-220.

·         Fergusson, J, Argyll in the Forty-Five (Edinburgh, 1951).

·         Fisher, I, ‘The Heirs of Somerled’, in R Oram and G Stell (eds), Lordship and Architecture in Medieval and Renaissance Scotland (Edinburgh, 2005), 85-95.

·         Gifford, J, The Buildings of Scotland: Highland and Islands (Harmondsworth, 1992).

·         Gregory, D, The History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, from AD 1493 to AD 1625, 2nd edition, (1881).

·         Lewis, J, and others, ‘Dunstaffnage Castle, Argyll & Bute: excavations in the north tower and east range, 1987-94’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 126 (1996), 559-604.

·         McDonald, R A, The Kingdom of the Isles: Scotland’s Western Seaboard c.1100-c.1336 (East Linton, 1997).

·         McKerral, A, Kintyre in the 17th Century (republished, Campbeltown, 2001).

·         MacDougall, N, James IV (East Linton, 1997).

·         MacDougall, N, ‘Achilles Heel?  The Earldom of Ross, the Lordship of the Isles, and the Stewart Kings, 1449-1507’, in E J Cowan and R A McDonald (eds), Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Middle Ages (East Linton, 2000), 248-75.

·         MacGibbon, D, and Ross, T, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, vol 3 (Edinburgh, 1889)

·         Mackay Mackenzie, W, The Medieval Castle in Scotland (London, 1927).

·         Macphail, J R N, (ed), Highland Papers, vol 1 (Scottish History Society, 1914).

·         Miers, M, The Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (Edinburgh, 2008).

·         Oram, R D, Alexander II King of Scots 1214-1249 (Edinburgh, 2012).

·         RCAHMS, Argyll: an Inventory of the Monuments, volume 3, Mull, Tiree, Coll and Northern Argyll (excluding the Early Medieval and later monuments of Iona) (Edinburgh, 1980).

·         Ritchie, G, and Harman, M, Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles (Edinburgh, 1985).

·         Sellar, W D H, ‘Hebridean Sea Kings: The Successors of Somerled, 1164-1316’, in E J Cowan and R A McDonald (eds), Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Middle Ages (East Linton, 2000), 187-218.

·         Simpson, W D, Scottish Castles (HMSO, 1959).

·         Simpson, W D, The Ancient Stones of Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1968).

·         Stell, G P, ‘Castle Tioram and the MacDonalds of Clanranald: a western seaboard castle in context’, in R D Oram (ed), The Lordship of the Isles (forthcoming, Leiden, 2013).

·         Stevenson, D, Highland Warrior: Alasdair MacColla and the Civil Wars, (Edinburgh, 2003).

·         Tabraham, C, Scotland’s Castles (London, 1997).

[1] See http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/22355/details/mingary+castle/&biblio+more

[2] D MacGibbon and T Ross, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, vol 3 (Edinburgh, 1889), 42-6.

[3] Ibid, 41-2.

[4] Ibid, 42.

[5] Ibid, 45.

[6] Ibid, 46.

[7] W Mackay Mackenzie, The Medieval Castle in Scotland (London, 1927).

[8] W D Simpson, Scottish Castles (HMSO, 1959), 8.

[9] W D Simpson, The Ancient Stones of Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1968), 133.

[10] Ibid, 132.

[11] Ibid, 136.

[12] Ibid, 136-7.

[13] Ibid, 137.

[14] S Cruden, The Scottish Castle, 1st edition (Edinburgh, 1960), 3rd edition (Edinburgh, 1981).  For ‘Castles of the Western Seaboard’, see 3rd edition, 38-49.

[15] Ibid, 38.

[16] Ibid, 39.

[17] RCAHMS, Argyll: an Inventory of the Monuments, volume 3, Mull, Tiree, Coll and Northern Argyll (excluding the Early Medieval and later monuments of Iona) (Edinburgh, 1980), no 345, p 209.

[18] Dunbar, ‘Medieval architecture’, 46.

[19] Cruden, Scottish Castles, 24.

[20] Tabraham, Scotland’s Castles, 36.

[21] J Lewis and others, ‘Dunstaffnage Castle, Argyll & Bute: excavations in the north tower and east range, 1987-94’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 126 (1996), 559-604.

[22] Tabraham, Scotland’s Castles, 36.

[23] Ibid, 37; Lewis, ‘Dunstaffnage Castle’, 600 (where the date for Duncan’s work is given wrongly as ‘third quarter’ of the thirteenth century rather than second quarter).

[24] J Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland: Highland and Islands (Harmondsworth, 1992), 47.

[25] I Fisher, ‘The Heirs of Somerled’, in R Oram and G Stell (eds), Lordship and Architecture in Medieval and Renaissance Scotland (Edinburgh, 2005), 85-95 at 91.

[26] R A McDonald, The Kingdom of the Isles: Scotland’s Western Seaboard c.1100-c.1336 (East Linton, 1997), 189 n 120.

[27] G Ritchie and M Harman, Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles (Edinburgh, 1985), 84.

[28] Gifford, Highland and Islands, 257-60.

[29] M Miers, The Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (Edinburgh, 2008), 100-101.

[30] See, for example, ‘History of the MacDonalds’ in J R N Macphail (ed), Highland Papers, vol 1 (Scottish History Society, 1914), 5-72.

[31] Ibid, 13.

[32] Ibid, 12.

[33] Ibid, 12-13.

[34] J Dunbar, ‘The medieval architecture of the Scottish Highlands’, in L Maclean of Dochgarroch (ed), The Middle Ages in the Highlands (Inverness, 1981), 38-70 at 46.  See also C Tabraham, Scotland’s Castles (London, 1997), 35.

[35] The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K M Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2012), 1293/2/17.  Date accessed: 25 November 2012.

[36] The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol 1, ed T Thomson (London, 1814).

[37] W D H Sellar, ‘Hebridean Sea Kings: The Successors of Somerled, 1164-1316’, in E J Cowan and R A McDonald (eds), Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Middle Ages (East Linton, 2000), 187-218.

[38] Ibid, 199.

[39] Ibid, 201.  For the most recent discussion of this see R D Oram, Alexander II King of Scots 1214-1249 (Edinburgh, 2012).

[40] Sellar, ‘Hebridean Sea Kings’, 212-3.

[41] Ibid, 213-5.

[42] Ibid, 217-8.

[43] Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum [RMS], vol 1, ed J M Thomson (Edinburgh, 1882), appendix ii, nos 56, 57 and 58.  Contrary to statements in McDonald, Kingdom of the Isles, 184, Morvern was not part of this group of awards.

[44] Regesta Regum Scottorum, vi, The Acts of David II [RRS, vi], ed B Webster (Edinburgh, 1982), no 72.

[45] A A M Duncan and A L Brown, ‘Argyll and the Isles in the Earlier Middle Ages’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, XC (1956-7), 192-220 at 204.

[46]RRS, vi, no 73.

[47] For example, J Munro and R W Munro (eds), Acts of the Lords of the Isles, (Scottish History Society, 1986), no 1.

[48] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no 5.

[49] For the MacIans and their place in the MacDonald genealogy, see Acts of the Lords of the Isles, Appendix D.

[50] RMS, vol 1, appendix i, no 114.

[51] N MacDougall, ‘Achilles Heel?  The Earldom of Ross, the Lordship of the Isles, and the Stewart Kings, 1449-1507’, in Cowan and McDonald (eds), Alba, 248-75 at 267 n 77.

[52] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no 20, Appendix D, 284.

[53] A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (eds), Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, volume IV, 1433-1447 (Glasgow, 1983), no 106.

[54] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no 80.

[55] Ibid, 259.

[56] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no B33; CSSR, IV, no 965, where the dispensation is erroneously stated as being for John son of Alexander.

[57] Ibid, 259.

[58] RMS, ii, no 2286.

[59] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no 123.

[60] RMS, ii, nos 2200, 2201, 2202.

[61] N MacDougall, James IV (East Linton, 1997), 102-103,

[62] Highland Papers, vol 1, 56.

[63] MacDougall, James IV, 104.

[64] RMS, ii, no 2216.

[65] MacDougall, James IV, 105.

[66] RMS, ii, no 2253.

[67] This section summarises the account in MacDougall, James IV, 115-6.

[68] MacDougall, James IV, 116.

[69] RMS, ii, nos 2264, 2281, 2287.

[70] Acts of the Lords of Council in Civil Causes, 1496-1501, eds G Neilson and H Paton (Edinburgh, 1918), 41.

[71] MacDougall, James IV, 176-7.  For James at Loch Kilkerran, see RMS, ii, nos 2406, 2424, 2425.

[72] MacDougall completely misses this expedition in his analysis of the king’s reign.  On 17 March 1498/9, James was at Ayr (RMS, ii, no 2484) and on 1 April 1499 was at Rothesay (ibid, no 2485), with his presence at Tarbert being attested on 29 March.

[73] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no A58.

[74] Ibid, no A57.

[75] Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland [TA], ed J B Paul, vol ii (Edinburgh, 1900), 96, 110, 112.

[76] TA, ii, 113.

[77] TA, ii, 142, 154, 389.

[78] TA, ii, 367.

[79] TA, ii, 419, 427.

[80] Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, A1505/3/82.  Date accessed: 25 November 2012.

[81] TA, ii, 442, 445, 449, 467; ibid, iii, 128.

[82] TA, iii, 103.

[83] RMS, ii, no 3001; Acts of the Lords of the Isles, no A64.

[84] RMS, ii, no 2895.

[85] TA, iv, 80, 350, 405.

[86] TA, iv, 86, 104, 308.

[87] Acts of the Lords of Council in Public Affairs 1501-1554 (Edinburgh, 1932), 87; Gregory, Western Highlands, 118.

[88] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, 285; Gregory, Western Highlands, 125.

[89] Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum, ed M Livingtsone, vol I (Edinburgh, 1908), no 3048.

[90] APS, ii, 361, 405.

[91] Acts of the Lords of the Isles, 285.

[92] J Cameron, James V: The Personal Rule, 1528-1542 (East Linton, 1998), 240-241.

[93] For the marginalisation of Archibald, 4th earl of Argyll, in the 1530s, see Cameron, James V, 232-9.

[94] Cameron, James V, 241.

[95] ER, xvii, 750-1.

[96] Cameron, James V, 241; Acts of the Lords of the Isles, 285.

[97] Cameron, James V, 241.

[98] RSS, iii, no 2924.

[99] RMS, iv, no 527.

[100] The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, vol 4, 1548-1556, ed J Beveridge (Edinburgh, 1952), no 908.

[101] Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1587/7/70.  Date accessed: 25 November 2012.

[102] D Gregory, The History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, from AD 1493 to AD 1625, 2nd edition, (1881), 238-40.

[103] Gregory, Western Highlands, 240.

[104] Gregory, Western Highlands, 241-56.

[105] Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol 5, ed D Masson (Edinburgh, 1882), 54.

[106] Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, A1593/4/7.  Accessed: 25 November 2012.

[107] Gregory, Western Highlands, 324.

[108] Gregory, Western Highlands, 406.

[109] RMS, vii, no 272.

[110] Gregory, Western Highlands, 407.

[111] Ibid, 410-11; G Donaldson, Scotland: James V to James VII (Edinburgh,1965), 228.

[112] RMS, vii, no 2057.

[113] H Campbell (ed), Abstracts of the Particular and General Registers of Sasines for Argyll, Bute and Dumbarton, otherwise known as the Argyll Sasines, vol 2 (Edinburgh, 1934), no 202.

[114] Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1633/6/90.  Date accessed: 25 November 2012.

[115] Ibid, 1643/6/91.

[116] D Stevenson, Highland Warrior: Alasdair MacColla and the Civil Wars, (Edinburgh, 2003), 111-14; A Campbell, A History of Clan Campbell, Vol 2: From Flodden to the Restoration, (Edinburgh, 2002), 217.

[117] RCAHMS, Argyll, vol 3, 217.

[118] P Gordon, A Short Abridgement of Britane’s Distemper (Spalding Club, 1844), 65.

[119] Ninth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.  Part II, Appendix and Index (London, 1884), ‘The Rinuccini MS’, 354.

[120] Wessex Archaeology, Mingary, Ardnamurchan, The Sound of Mull, unpublished Designated Site Assessment for Historic Scotland, 2007.

[121] J G Fotheringham (ed), The Diplomatic Correspondence of Jean de Montereul, 1645-8, volume 2 (Scottish History Society, 1899), 245.

[122] The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45 [NSA], vol 7, Parish of Ardnamurchan, County of Argyle, 146-7

[123] Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, 1648/3/79; 1649/1/133.  Date accessed: 25 November 2012.

[124] For discussion of the ravaging of Argyll properties by Alasdair MacColla’s forces in the 1640s, see A McKerral, Kintyre in the 17th Century (republished, Campbelltown, 2001), chapters 5-9.

[125] National Records of Scotland, Papers of the Leslie Family, Earls of Leven and Melville: Jacobite Papers GD26/8/64.

[126] RCAHMS, Argyll, volume 3, 217; G P Stell, ‘Castle Tioram and the MacDonalds of Clanranald: a western seaboard castle in context’, in R D Oram (ed), The Lordship of the Isles (forthcoming, Leiden, 2013).

[127] NSA, vol 7, 141-2.

[128] RCAHMS, Argyll, vol 3, 217.

[129] J Fergusson, Argyll in the Forty-Five (Edinburgh, 1951), 14, 21, 52, 58, 82, 118-9, 179, 200.

[130] RCAHMS, Argyll, vol3, 217.

[131] NSA, vol 7, 145-6.