Inveraray Castle has stood by the shores of Loch Fyne, near the mouth of the River Aray, since the 15th Century when the Campbell clan moved from their previous residence at Innischonnel Castle.
The modern look of Inveraray castle, however, owes much more to the designs of John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll and his architect Sir John Vanbrugh, than to the needs of a medieval stronghold.
John Campbell was a prominent Scottish soldier. In 1711 he was appointed commander-in-chief of British forces in Spain and was governor of Minorca from 1712 to 1716. In the 1715 Jacobite Rising he led government forces at the Battle of Sheriffmuir and defeated the Jacobites under the Earl of Mar. For this he was created Duke of Greenwich.
In 1720 he consulted with the renowned architect John Vanbrugh about remodelling Inveraray Castle. Vanbrugh drew some basic sketches, but he died in 1726. The 2nd Duke died in 1743 without having put his plans into action.
His brother, Archibald, 3rd Duke Argyll, succeeded him and took on the task with gusto. He employed Roger Morris to extend the sketches to full architectural drawings. Morris died a short time afterwards and the project was handed to William Adam. The building was finally completed by Adam's sons John and Robert.
The first stone was laid three years later in 1746, just yards away from the old tower. The basic structure was complete by 1758, though the full building wasn't complete until 1789 due to the difficulty in getting building materials through the hills. The 3rd Duke also planned out the township and the beautiful parkland that surrounds the castle.
The castle at this point was a classic neo-Gothic design standing two stories high. The next phase of building took place in 1877 when a significant part of the castle was damaged in a fire. The architect Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt helped with the reconstruction work which saw a third storey added along with conical roofs on the four corner towers and some other Victorian touches.
The 11th Duke and Duchess opened the castle to the public in 1953.
In 1975 the castle again suffered a major fire and the 12th Duke and family lived in the basement for a time while repairs were carried out.
Today, Inveraray Castle is still first and foremost a family home, however it is a lovingly cared-for visitor attraction as well.
Visitors can tour the main part of the castle and see, amongst other things, the beautiful Beauvais tapestries in the Tapestry Drawing Room, the opulence and splendour of the State Dining Room and learn more about the about Clan Campbell in The Clan Room.
Outside, the castle sits in 16 acres of exquisite gardens and some 180 hectares of landscaped parkland. There are a number of walks through the castle estates and the garden is designed to give interest all year round.
The castle hosts the Inveraray Highland Games in July and is visited by a classic car tour in August.
Facilities available at the castle include tearooms and gift shop and the castle can also cater for wedding parties and corporate events.
Status: Family Home / Visitor Attraction / Wedding Venue
Owner: Duke & Duchess of Argyll
Tel: +44 (0)1499 302 203
Opening Times: April to October Monday to Sunday 10am to 5.45pm
Painting of Inveraray Castle c. 1800
The modern day castle