Dumbarton Castle, Dumbarton, West of Glasgow, Scotland

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Last year May 2016, we stayed over night at Dumbarton in Scotland, on our way back from staying on the Islands of Jura and Islay, two Inner Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland.  Dumbarton, is really just somewhere we pass through on our way to the West Coast, but it does have a castle and we were meeting up with some of our family for the night, at a hotel, so it was a chance to see the castle.  The only snag was……. I had to get up early to visit, well we both did, that was husbands condition for having a look.  So these photos were taken at 7.00 am ….thank goodness it wasn’t raining or foggy.  I had ten minutes to run from the car park, take photos and run back…….we had a long way to drive home.

I had always thought the castle was on an island, seen from the other side of the Clyde, it looks like it could be, but it sits on Dumbarton Rock, a plug of volcano basalt.  Of course it was closed at that time of the morning and also lots of scaffolding, which is always a good sign of maintenance work being carried out.

There is very little remaining of the castle, but there is enough to fire your imagination, from just the location.

A little history ……..This rock was home to a settlement called Alcluith (meaning ‘Clyde Rock’), whose first records appear as early as 450AD. There was likely a simple fortress as part of this settlement, “Dun Breatann” meaning ‘Fortress of the Britons’.


Over the next several hundred years, Dumbarton Rock was besieged, fell, was regained and fell again before the settlement was destroyed by Viking raiders.

The second stage begins in the 13th century, when documentation suggests that a medieval castle was built on the the summit by Alexander II of Scotland.

Only the Portcullis Arch (built in the 1300’s) and the Guard House (built in the latter half of the 16th century) remain today.

The third stage of the castles’ development took place between the late 17th and late 18th centuries.  What was left of the existing castle structures were destroyed, and yet another castle was built on this lofty perch.

Artillery fortifications and the ‘French Prison’ are all that’s left today, with very little of the medieval castle (and none of the earlier one) still standing.  

We will return, because the views from the top, on a clear day, must be amazing……thats if I can climb the 547 steps to the remains of the White Tower Crag.   


8 Replies to “Dumbarton Castle, Dumbarton, West of Glasgow, Scotland”

  1. My mother, an avid genealogist has just got my dad back to Scotland. I have known for years that my Mom’s side hails from Scotland as well, But am glad to hear Dad’s side goes back as well. We had thought he was just Irish lol. Just seeing the photos gives me a thrill. Thank you, dear lady.

    1. What part of Scotland have they gone to Carla. We are going to the west coast at the start of May, we go every year. Lots of people left Scotland during the Clearances and made their way to America. It is a wonderful part of Scotland the west coast and all the Islands, which I love visiting. Lots more photos of Scotland to come 🙂

  2. Ancestors of mine were castle soldiers, doctors to the garrison and others owned the land all around the castle. i am a daughter of the Rock- all the way back to the 1500s

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