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Author Topic:   Dumbarton Castle
posted 10-20-2001 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cupits   Click Here to Email cupits     Edit/Delete Message
Hello from Texas,
I have a postcard of Dumbarton Castle dated 1906. I believe it was in Scotland but can find no info on it. would appreciate knowing particulars and if it still exists.


posted 10-21-2001 06:51 PM           Edit/Delete Message
Yes it still exists, and I'm surprised you could find no data on it, and it is in Scotland.
The castle is situated on the north shore of the Clyde, south of Dumbarton town centre, off minor roads S of A814 and A82.
Dumbarton from Dun Breatan, Fort of the Britons.
Built upon a twin peaked volcanic plug which oversees the Firth of Clyde, only a 14thC portcullis arch and some portions of the guard house remain of the medieval Royal castle of Dumbarton. The remaining structure is essentially a military fortress of the 18th & 19th centuries.
Dumbarton has been fortified since at least as early as the 5thC, when St Patrick wrote to the subjects of Ceretic, King of Alcluith, castigating them for a piratical raid on his Irish converts.
It was the capital of the kingdom of Strathclyde, the nation of the Britons, and was besieged on several occasions. In 756 a combined force of Picts and Northumbrians took the castle, only to be annihilated themselves a few days later. The buildings on the rock were burned in 780, though it is not certain whether this was a result of hostile activity.
In 870 a Viking attack led by Olaf the White of Dublin and Ivar the One-Legged led to a four-month siege. They severed the water supply and starved the occupants to submission. The castle was plundered for its wealth and people, 200 longships carrying the booty to Dublin. This marked the demise of the Britons.
They returned to strength in the 10thC, and extended their territory southwards. In 1018 following the death of Owen the Bald last king of the Britons at the Battle of Carham, Malcolm 2 of Scots was able to set his grandson Duncan upon the British throne. When Duncan succeeded to the Scots throne in 1034, Strathclyde was finally integrated into the Scottish kingdom.
Little is then heard of Dumbarton until in 1222 the burgh charter mentions the new castle. Dumbarton at this time was of significant importance as it guarded the western approaches to the realm from the Viking territories of the Isles and west highlands. Until their defeat at the battle of Largs in 1263, the territory of the Norsemen came as close as Kilcreggan on the Roseneath peninsula a few miles away, where it is likely that a Norse watch tower occupied the site of what is now Craigrownie Castle.
From these early years it is evident that Dumbarton was a Royal castle, and as such was a target of Edward 1 in his invasion of 1296. He subsequently installed sympathetic Governors, such as Sir John Mentieth, the captor of The Wallace in 1305. Legend asserts that Wallace was brought here as a prisoner prior to his departure for London, though most authorities think this unlikely.
In 1333, in the aftermath of the Battle of Halidon Hill, the Scots sent their young king David 2 and his queen Joanna of England to reside here for security. At this point Edward Balliol was attempting to regain his father’s former realm for himself, with English support. Dumbarton although on the west coast was then to become Scottish royalty’s accustomed embarkation point for the safety of France, and the young couple departed in early 1334.
As a Royal castle under the care of the rebellious Earl of Lennox in 1489, it was again besieged by the young James 4 himself, the castle being occupied by Lord Darnley, the Earls heir. The siege failed as the garrison burnt the burgh, but James returned the same year and was successful. He may have utilised the great bombard “Mons Meg” in the assault.
The castle remained at the centre of national events, when in 1514, during the minority of James V, and in the aftermath of Flodden, it was held by the Lord Erskine for the Queen Mother. The Earl of Lennox captured it at this time on behalf of the opposing faction led by the Earl of Arran. The assailants had tunnelled below the north entrance and stormed the garrison.
A year later the Duke of Albany arrived at the castle from France to take up his duties as Governor of the Realm. As the late king’s cousin he had been invited to take up the role as a neutral, and immediately arrested Lennox, installing a garrison of Frenchmen. He thereafter used Dumbarton as his regular port of departure to France. In 1523 he arrived with a large French force with the intention of invading England, but the plan was never followed through due to inconsistent support from the Scots. He left the following year with his troops and never returned. The divided Scots nobles squabbled over the castle and control passed amongst the various parties, until James V regained it as a base for several sorties to the west.
In 1548 it again had a royal resident, as the young Queen Mary was brought to the castle to protect her from the effects of the “Rough Wooing” of Henry 8th. She left for France within 5 months, where she married the Dauphin, heir apparent to the throne. She returned to visit (didn’t she visit everywhere?) in 1563. Her Governor of the castle was the Lord Fleming of Cumbernauld, who had fled with her to England after Langside in 1568. He returned in 1570 to be besieged in the castle by the Regent Moray. The arrival of a French fleet and the murder of Moray relieved him within a few weeks.
Fleming held the castle for the Queen until 1571, when Captain Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill took it for the young James 6th, his assault is recorded in detail.
Leaving Glasgow an hour before sunset on the evening of the 31st March, Crawford and about a hundred men carried ladders and ropes with iron hooks. They were armed with muskets. By 1a.m they halted a mile from the castle, and bound their guns to their backs, and crossed what was then marshland to the north-east curtain wall, at the highest point of the cliff where attack would be least suspected. Climbing by stages they reached the base of the wall at dawn, and as the first of the assailants crossed the walltops, a sentry raised the alarm. The garrison awoke and were attacked by Crawford’s men. Three died, and the remainder fled. Crawford established his forces on the area known as the Beak, the summit of the eastern peak, and when no counter attack developed used the castles own artillery against the remaining garrison strong points. Most of the garrison fled, some captured, but the Lord Fleming made his escape by sea. Archbishop Hamilton of St Andrews, one of the exiled Queens staunchest supporters was captured, and later tried and executed.
The castle changed hands several times during the Covenanting period, and the Civil War. It sustained much damage, and required extensive repair by the time extension and improvement work was begun in 1675.
Thereafter the castle functioned mostly as a state prison, with a few noble inmates, until it regained some strategic importance as a military installation in the Jacobite years. From then on military buildings and gun batteries obliterated the mediaeval castle, as its role continued through the Napoleonic wars and into the 19thC. It was used as a military prison throughout this period. The constructions of that time represent the bulk of what we see today. It remained in use as a military installation until World war 2, when two bombs were dropped on it during the raids on Clydebank.
Managed by Historic Scotland, 01389 732167, open daily year round, closed Thursday afternoons and Fridays, October to March.
Ancient names; Alcluith, Alt Clut; Clyde Rock

'Demeure par la verite'
Visit; Gordon's Scottish Castles Resource Page

[This message has been edited by Gordon (edited 10-21-2001).]

posted 10-29-2001 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
Wow Gordon!

Not much more left to say on that, except perhaps we folks south of the Clyde rather enjoy seeing the castle splendidly lit up at night against the backdrop of Ben Lomond - even nicer when there's a clear early-evening sunset and the castle is reflected in the gentle waters of the Clyde.

The good folks of Dunbarton are reputed to object a little to paying for us to enjoy such a privilage - we reciprocate somewhat with a nice display of Christmas trees in the cliffs above the A8!


posted 10-29-2001 05:08 PM           Edit/Delete Message
The view from the other side ain't too bad.
I quite enjoy going down toward Cardross and looking across, but then that always involves a childhood memory or three, so perhaps I'm a little biased.

Lady LaReina
posted 12-10-2001 11:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lady LaReina   Click Here to Email Lady LaReina     Edit/Delete Message
Gordon and Levan,

I must commend you on your enthusiasm in regards to the castles in your surrounding area. Unfortunately, in our day and age most tend to take things they often see for granted. Additionally, I find your wealth of knowlege immensely impressive. Thank you sharing your experience and knowledge.

Lady LaReina
A Kingdom of Dreams

All times are PT (US)

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