Castle Sween – Possibly the Oldest Stone Castle in Scotland

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Last summer, in 2016, while on holiday in Scotland, we visited Castle Sween which is near Lochgilphead, in Argyll and Bute.  It was a beautiful warm sunny day and it was perfect for exploring.  The castle is in the most wonderful location, except for the static holiday homes, which you have to pass through, while making your way to the castle.  Unfortunately you are not allow to park near the castle, so there is quite a hike down from the road.  I think it might be to stop people coming to look at the castle, but the walk down is quite nice, its just a little steep coming back up.


This is the entrance to the site, we had already driven down, but had to come back up and park on the road verge.




All the way down to the Castle were hundreds of Bluebells, the smell was wonderful.


We saw the castle through the trees and did wonder how we would actually get to it, there were no signs, so we just headed towards it, through the buildings, through a small gate in stone wall that surrounds the castle and then it was hunt the entrance.





A a little bit of history ………Castle Sween is thought to be the oldest stone castle on the Scottish mainland that can be dated with any certainty. Architectural details show it was built in the 1100s and occupied for about 500 years.

The castle stands on a rocky roll in southern Knapdale, looking over Loch Sween and out to Jura. To its west is a small islet cleared to act as a boat landing, illustrating the vital importance of the sea as a major transport link.  The castle changed hands many times over the medieval period  passing in turn from the MacSweens to the MacDonalds, to the MacNeills, and the MacMillans. The MacDonalds recaptured Sween in 1647 and slighted the castle, making it uninhabitable.

The castle has never been restored, though it is maintained and preserved by Historic Scotland.

We explored the  interior of the castle, but regrettably the stairs were locked, as work was being carried out on that side of the castle.  The views from the castle are beautiful, you can see the mountains of Jura in one of the photos.  When we returned from following the road further down, you could see the caravan site with castle in the background.  Afterwards we visited the site shop and bought some ice-cream, which was quite a treat, as it was Scottish and did taste rather nice.


12 Replies to “Castle Sween – Possibly the Oldest Stone Castle in Scotland”

  1. They sure put that castle in a great spot. And you couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. Thanks for all the lovely pictures, Lynne.

  2. Fabulous pics of one of my favourite castles, Lynne! What a wonderful place, and with the bluebells out too – I remember the fragrance. Loved re-visiting it through your photos.

  3. What a shame about the access to the castle, you certainly had a great day for your visit. The views around the castle are magnificent. Looks well worth the visit.

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