It’s hard to find a good abandonment story these days but the 3-storey Duart Castle (1367) on the Isle of Mull has surprisingly good kidnapping references and one story of abandonment that is particularly amusing. It’s horrifying but funny. It’s known as the “Lady on the Rock” story.
In front of Duart Castle is a rock in the middle of the vast lake, visible only in low tide. The 11th Chief of the Maclean clan (Lachlan) who lived in the Castle, married a woman named Elizabeth. The Chief decided to have Elizabeth marooned on this isolated rock that appeared in the lake because she failed to produce a heir. Marriage was a tough gig before IVF, I tell you. The chief, naturally, had expected her to drown. She screamed her head off, not literally, but enough that passing fisherman responded and took her to her brothers house in Inveraray. The Chief, still assuming his wife had died, smugly sent her father a condolence letter and suggested her body be sent to Inveraray to be buried among her siblings, not knowing she was in Inveraray alive and pissed off. Her father craftily agreed and asked him to bring the coffin to Inveraray.
As the Chief walked in to the dining hall with the coffin the entire family was in the dining hall eating dinner – including his supposed dead wife Elizabeth for whom he was holding a wooden casket and was planning to bury 6 feet under. He somehow managed to survive and left the castle unharmed. Luckily, karma is a bitch. The Chief married twice more and finally had a heir but years later, while visiting Edinburgh, he was murdered by Elizabeth’s brother. This is what Oprah calls “the full circle moment.”
The Castle itself is more like a historical tour of a family home. Multiple personal family portraits of the MacCleans through the generations line the walls, original clothing worn by family including a wedding dress, original silver and war medals, photos of family with the Queen, dining room settings, bedrooms, dungeons (not linked to the bedroom unfortunately, that would’ve been interesting) and a very narrow circular staircase that gave me vertigo which eventually led to the roof and the stunning views of the lake and the Isle of Mull.
The movie Entrapment starring Catherine Zeta Jones was filmed at the castle and judging by the sour photo of her on the wall she was loving it. Sir Anthony Hopkins also filmed When Eight Bells Toll here in 1971. I spent the last 20 minutes before my bus pick up sitting on the grass taking in the breath taking scenery and I decided to take the scholarship I was offered to study in PA. It’s not often someone will give you a few thousands pounds to travel and I can’t seem to escape PA. (Even my postcode here in Scotland is PA65).
A Duart Castle bus leaves the Craigure ferry terminal with every ferry arrival and takes roughly 15 minutes. The return bus ride and entry to the castle is 11 pounds. Castle entry alone is 5.50 pounds.
Have you been to Duart Castle? What did you think?