INVERARY, Scotland — Not all the castles in Scotland are drafty examples of medieval austerity. A case in point is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of the clan Campbell.

The current Inverary Castle, inspired by Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, is relatively new, completed in 1789, although a castle has stood on the shore of Loch Fyne since the 1400s. A fire in 1877 led to the addition on the conical roofs on the turrets.

The house is a combination of baroque, Palladian and Gothic styles, designed by Roger Morris and Richard Adam, both of whom died before the project was finished, and decorated by Robert Mylne.

Inverary Castle is opulent and decorous, especially if one is a fan of miltaria. Its displays include 1,300 pikes, Brown Bess muskets, Lochaber axes and 18th century Scottish broadswords, as well as preserved swords from the Battle of Culloden.


Entering the castle, one is faced with a grand room filled floor to ceiling with intricate displays of weaponry.


The State Dining Room and Tapestry Drawing Room both house French tapestries woven especially for the castle, as well as prime examples of Scottish, English and French furniture and artworks. The castle’s collection of china, silver and family heirlooms spans generations, and the Clan Room features a genealogical history of the family.

Inverary’s 16-acre estate is gorgeously manicured, a contrast to the wildness of Doune, and is more in keeping with what one things of from the nobility.

It is more than just a museum and the current Duke of Argyll and his family still live in the castle.


It seems no self-respecting castle is without a link to popular culture and Inverary is no exception. The Christmas feast scene from “Downton Abbey” (Brit-porn for Americans, as I like to call it), in the fictional Duneagle Castle, was filmed here.

On our highland tour, Inverary was the last stop, and the tranquil surroundings made the perfect backdrop for a cup of tea and a scone after a long day.

The castle is open April 1 to Oct. 31. General admission is 10 pounds.

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