Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle is a magnificent stately home situated on the shores of Loch Fyne in Argyll, Scotland. The castle has been the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell, since the 18th century. It is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture and attracts visitors from all over the world who come to admire its beauty, learn about its rich history, and explore the expansive estate grounds.

History of Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle has a long and fascinating history that is intertwined with that of Clan Campbell and the Dukes of Argyll. The castle has witnessed major events in Scottish history and has hosted many notable figures over the centuries.

Clan Campbell and the Dukes of Argyll

The history of Inveraray Castle is inextricably linked with the powerful Clan Campbell and the Dukes of Argyll. The Campbells rose to prominence in the 13th century and became one of the most influential clans in Scottish history. They were staunch supporters of the Scottish crown and played significant roles in military, political, and cultural affairs. In 1457, Colin Campbell was made the 1st Earl of Argyll by James II of Scotland, cementing the clan's status and power. The Campbells continued to gain influence and wealth over the centuries, with the 8th Earl being elevated to the title of Duke in 1701, becoming the 1st Duke of Argyll. The Dukes of Argyll have left an indelible mark on Scottish and British history. Notable figures include John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, who fought against the Jacobites at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715; and George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, who served as Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. The Dukes have also been patrons of the arts, commissioning works from renowned artists and architects to adorn their ancestral seat at Inveraray Castle. Today, the current Duke of Argyll, Torquhil Ian Campbell, continues the family's legacy of stewardship and preservation of this magnificent castle and its rich heritage. Visitors to Inveraray Castle can learn about the fascinating history of Clan Campbell and the Dukes of Argyll through guided tours, exhibits, and the castle's impressive collection of artefacts and artworks

Construction and Renovations

The construction of Inveraray Castle was a grand undertaking that spanned several decades and generations of the Campbell family. The project began in 1743 under Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, who commissioned the renowned English architect Roger Morris to design a new castle to replace the earlier 15th-century structure. However, work was suspended in 1745 due to the Jacobite rising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie. The Duke fought against the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, which ended the uprising. Construction resumed in the 1770s under John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll, who hired Robert Mylne, a prominent Scottish architect, to oversee the completion of the castle. The castle underwent further renovations and additions in the 19th century under George Campbell, 6th Duke of Argyll, and his son John Campbell, 7th Duke of Argyll. These improvements included the addition of the iconic conical spires and the expansion of the castle's living quarters and public spaces. In 1975, a devastating fire broke out, causing extensive damage to the roof and interiors. The 12th Duke of Argyll, Ian Campbell, launched a major restoration project to repair the damage and restore the castle to its former glory. The restoration involved skilled craftsmen from across the United Kingdom and took several years to complete. Today, visitors can admire the results of these centuries of construction and renovation, which have created a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture that seamlessly blends elements of Baroque, Palladian, and Gothic design.

Inveraray Castle

Notable Visitors

Throughout its history, Inveraray Castle has welcomed a host of notable visitors, from royalty and statesmen to cultural luminaries. These visits have added to the castle's rich tapestry of stories and have helped to cement its status as a cultural and historical landmark. One of the most famous visitors was Queen Victoria, who stayed at the castle with Prince Albert in 1847 during their tour of Scotland. The royal couple were hosted by the 8th Duke of Argyll and were reportedly impressed by the castle's grandeur and the warm hospitality they received. Other royal visitors have included the future King Edward VII, who stayed at the castle in 1864, and the current Prince of Wales, who has visited on several occasions as part of his role as the Great Master of the Order of the Bath, a prestigious order of knighthood. In addition to royalty, Inveraray Castle has hosted many notable figures from the worlds of politics, literature, and the arts. Sir Walter Scott, the renowned Scottish novelist and poet, visited the castle in 1814 and was inspired to write his poem "The Lord of the Isles" after seeing the castle's impressive armoury collection. Other notable visitors have included the British Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was a friend of the 8th Duke of Argyll; and the American author Mark Twain, who visited the castle during his tour of Europe in 1873 and wrote about his experiences in his book "A Tramp Abroad

Castle Interiors

The interiors of Inveraray Castle are a testament to the wealth, power, and taste of the Dukes of Argyll and the skilled craftsmen who worked on the castle over the centuries. The rooms are filled with priceless artworks, exquisite furnishings, and stunning architectural details that reflect the changing styles and fashions of the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the most impressive rooms is the Armoury Hall, which houses a vast collection of arms and armour from around the world, including swords, muskets, pistols, and even a set of samurai armour gifted to the 9th Duke of Argyll by the Emperor of Japan. The hall features intricate plasterwork ceilings, ornate fireplaces, and a minstrels' gallery, creating a grand and imposing atmosphere. Another highlight is the State Dining Room, which is set for a formal dinner with a magnificent table that can seat up to 30 guests. The room is adorned with portraits of the Dukes of Argyll and their families and a stunning crystal chandelier reflecting the light from the large windows overlooking the gardens.


The Tapestry Drawing Room is a more intimate space, featuring beautiful 18th-century Beauvais tapestries that depict scenes from the story of Jason and the Argonauts. The room also contains fine examples of French and English furniture, as well as a collection of Chinese porcelain. Other notable rooms include the Saloon, with its impressive collection of paintings by famous artists such as Gainsborough and Raeburn; the Library, which contains over 5,000 books and manuscripts; and the Victorian Room, which showcases the opulent style of the late 19th century. Visitors can explore these magnificent interiors on guided tours, which provide fascinating insights into the history, art, and architecture of the castle

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle
Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

Gardens and Grounds

The gardens and grounds of Inveraray Castle are just as impressive as the castle itself, offering visitors a chance to enjoy the beauty of the Scottish landscape and the skill of the gardeners who have tended the estate over the centuries.

The gardens were originally laid out in the 18th century and feature a mix of formal and informal spaces, including manicured lawns, flower beds, and woodland walks. One of the highlights is the Beauvais Tapestries Garden, which showcases five large tapestries woven in the 18th century at the famous Beauvais factory in France. The tapestries depict scenes from the story of Jason and the Argonauts and are a stunning example of French textile art. Another notable feature is the Dun na Cuaiche Woodland Walk, which offers scenic views of the castle and Loch Fyne. The walk takes visitors through a variety of landscapes, from open meadows to dense forests, and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.


The estate also includes several follies and monuments, such as the Bell Tower, a Gothic-style structure built in the early 19th century, and the Carloonan Doocot, a picturesque dovecote that dates back to the 18th century. For those interested in the estate's agricultural heritage, there is a working farm that produces high-quality beef, lamb, and venison and a range of seasonal produce. Visitors can purchase these products at the castle's gift shop or enjoy them at the tea room, which serves delicious homemade meals and snacks. The gardens and grounds of Inveraray Castle are a delight to explore, offering something for everyone, from history buffs and art lovers to nature enthusiasts and foodies. They provide a perfect complement to the castle itself and are an essential part of the visitor experience

Tea Room and Gift Shop

The Tea Room at Inveraray Castle is a charming and inviting space that offers visitors a chance to relax and refuel after exploring the castle and grounds. Located in the castle's former kitchen, the Tea Room has been beautifully restored and decorated to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu features a delicious selection of homemade cakes, scones, sandwiches, and light lunches, all prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can enjoy traditional Scottish favourites such as haggis, neeps, and tatties, as well as a range of vegetarian and gluten-free options. One of the highlights of the Tea Room is its stunning views of the castle and the surrounding gardens. Visitors can sit by the large windows and take in the breathtaking scenery while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and a freshly baked treat.


The Tea Room also offers a range of speciality teas and coffees, including a selection of loose-leaf teas from around the world and a variety of flavoured coffees. For those looking for something a little stronger, there is also a selection of Scottish beers, wines, and spirits available. After enjoying a delicious meal or snack at the Tea Room, visitors can browse the castle's well-stocked Gift Shop, which offers a wide range of souvenirs, books, postcards, and locally made crafts and products. The shop has something for everyone, from small mementoes to high-end collectables.


One of the most popular items in the Gift Shop is the castle's line of food products, which includes jams, chutneys, biscuits, and shortbread, all made using traditional Scottish recipes and locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can also purchase a range of Scottish-themed gifts, such as tartan scarves, kilts, and jewellery. For book lovers, the Gift Shop has an extensive selection of books on Scottish history, culture, and heritage, as well as a range of fiction and non-fiction titles by Scottish authors. There are also books on the history of Inveraray Castle and Clan Campbell, as well as guidebooks and maps for exploring the surrounding area. Other popular items in the Gift Shop include Scottish-themed home decor, such as throw pillows, blankets, and wall art, as well as a range of clothing and accessories featuring the Inveraray Castle and Clan Campbell logos. The Tea Room and Gift Shop at Inveraray Castle are the perfect places to relax, refuel, and find the perfect souvenir to remember your visit to this magnificent historic site.

Inveraray Castle
Inveraray Castle

Special Events and Attractions

In addition to its regular opening hours, Inveraray Castle hosts a variety of special events and attractions throughout the year that offer visitors unique experiences and insights into Scottish culture and history.

Highland Games

The Inveraray Highland Games is a traditional Scottish sporting and cultural event that takes place every July on the grounds of Inveraray Castle. The games are a celebration of Scottish heritage and culture, attracting visitors from around the world who come to watch the competitions, enjoy the music and dance performances, and soak up the festive atmosphere. The games feature a wide range of traditional Scottish sports and competitions, including bagpiping, Highland dancing, and heavy athletics. The heavy athletics events are a particular highlight, with competitors taking part in traditional Scottish sports such as the caber toss, hammer throw, and shot put.


The caber toss is perhaps the most iconic event of the Highland Games, with competitors attempting to toss a large wooden pole (the caber) end over end so that it lands in a straight line. The hammer throw involves throwing a metal ball attached to a wooden shaft as far as possible, while the shot put involves throwing a large stone or metal ball from the shoulder.  In addition to the sporting events, the Inveraray Highland Games also features a range of cultural performances and demonstrations. Visitors can enjoy traditional Scottish music and dance, with performances by pipe bands, Highland dancers, and folk musicians.


There are also a variety of food and craft stalls at the games, offering visitors a chance to sample traditional Scottish cuisine and purchase locally-made crafts and souvenirs. The stalls feature everything from haggis and whisky to tartan scarves and Celtic jewellery. One of the highlights of the Inveraray Highland Games is the Clan Village, where visitors can learn about the history and heritage of the Scottish clans. The village features displays and demonstrations by clan societies from around the world, as well as a range of clan-themed merchandise and souvenirs.


The games also feature a range of children's activities and entertainment, including face painting, storytelling, and traditional Scottish games and sports. There is also a fun fair with rides and games for all ages. The Inveraray Highland Games is a fantastic opportunity to experience Scottish culture and heritage in a fun and festive atmosphere. Whether you're a fan of traditional Scottish sports, music, and dance, or simply looking for a unique and memorable day out, the games are not to be missed.

Inveraray Castle

Christmas at the Castle

Christmas at Inveraray Castle is a magical and festive event that takes place every December. The castle is transformed into a winter wonderland, with beautiful decorations, twinkling lights, and a warm and inviting atmosphere that captures the spirit of the holiday season. Visitors to the castle during the Christmas season can enjoy a range of special events and activities, including guided tours of the castle's beautifully decorated rooms, a Christmas market featuring local crafts and gifts, and a variety of festive food and drink offerings. One of the highlights of Christmas at the Castle is the stunning Christmas tree that takes centre stage in the castle's grand entrance hall. The tree is decorated with hundreds of lights and ornaments, creating a dazzling display that sets the tone for the rest of the castle's festive decor. Visitors can take a guided tour of the castle's state rooms, which are beautifully decorated for the holiday season with garlands, wreaths, and other festive touches. The tours provide a fascinating insight into the history and heritage of the castle, as well as a chance to see some of the castle's most impressive rooms and artefacts.


The Christmas market at Inveraray Castle is a popular attraction, featuring a range of local crafts, gifts, and food and drink offerings. Visitors can browse the stalls and find unique and handmade gifts for their loved ones while enjoying the festive atmosphere and live music performances. For those looking for a truly special experience, the castle also offers a range of festive dining options, including a traditional Christmas lunch in the castle's grand dining room, and a festive afternoon tea in the castle's tea room. The menus feature a range of seasonal dishes and treats, all prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.


Other festive activities at the castle include a visit from Santa Claus, who sets up his grotto in the castle's beautiful gardens, and a range of children's activities and entertainment, including storytelling, face painting, and Christmas crafts. One of the most magical experiences at Christmas at the Castle is the evening candlelight tours, which take place on selected dates throughout December. Visitors can explore the castle's beautifully decorated rooms by candlelight while learning about the history and traditions of Christmas at Inveraray Castle. Christmas at Inveraray Castle is a truly special and memorable event that captures the magic and spirit of the holiday season. Whether you're looking for a unique gift, a festive dining experience, or simply a chance to soak up the atmosphere of a beautiful historic castle at Christmas time, this event is not to be missed.

Inveraray Castle
Inveraray Castle

Clan Campbell Museum

The Clan Campbell Museum is a fascinating and informative attraction located in the heart of Inveraray, just a short walk from Inveraray Castle. The museum tells the story of one of Scotland's most powerful and influential clans, the Campbells, and their role in shaping the history and culture of Scotland. The museum is housed in a beautiful 18th-century building that was once the town's courthouse and prison. The building has been carefully restored and renovated to create a modern and engaging museum experience, with interactive displays, multimedia presentations, and a range of artefacts and exhibits that bring the history of the Campbells to life. Visitors to the museum can explore the rich and complex history of the Campbells, from their origins in the 13th century to their rise to power and influence in the 16th and 17th centuries, and their role in shaping the modern history of Scotland. The museum tells the story of the Campbells through a range of exhibits and displays, including ancient artefacts, historic documents, and personal stories and accounts from members of the clan. One of the highlights of the museum is the Clan Campbell family tree, which traces the lineage of the Campbells from their earliest known ancestors to the present day. The tree is a fascinating and informative display that helps visitors understand the complex web of relationships and alliances that shaped the history of the clan.


Another popular exhibit at the museum is the collection of Campbell tartans and heraldry, which showcases the distinctive patterns and symbols associated with the clan. Visitors can learn about the meaning and significance of the different tartans and heraldic devices, and see examples of how they have been used throughout history. The museum also features a range of interactive displays and multimedia presentations that bring the history of the Campbells to life. Visitors can watch videos and listen to audio recordings that tell the stories of famous Campbells throughout history, including military leaders, politicians, and cultural figures. One of the most poignant exhibits at the museum is the memorial to the Campbells who fought and died in the two World Wars. The exhibit features photographs, letters, and personal accounts from members of the clan who served in the armed forces and pays tribute to their bravery and sacrifice. The Clan Campbell Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in Scottish history and culture, particularly for those with a connection to the Campbell clan. The museum offers a fascinating and informative look at one of Scotland's most important and influential families and helps visitors understand the complex and often turbulent history of Scotland

Visiting Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle Tickets and Admission — Inveraray Castle tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the castle entrance upon arrival. Admission prices vary depending on the time of year and type of ticket. As of 2023, adult Inveraray Castle tickets cost £14.50, while children's tickets (ages 5-15) cost £10.00. Family tickets for two adults and up to three children are also available for £45.00. Guided tours of the castle are included in the admission price. These tours provide fascinating insights into the castle's history, architecture, and art collection. Audio guides are also available in several languages for those who prefer a self-guided experience.

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