Finlarig Castle-An Intriguing Ruin near Loch Tay

At the western end of Loch Tay, roughly a half-mile northeast of the village of Killin, Scotland, lies the precarious, overgrown, atmospheric, and seriously cool ruins of Finlarig Castle.

Finlarig Castle ruins.

It is unlikely that you will find this one in your guide books, as Finlarig sits on private property. However, it’s worth a stop if you happen to be in that neck of the woods. If you are a serious castle seeker, then I think Finlarig is worth going out of your way to see.

Parking is available across from the cemetery, about a minute’s walk to the castle. When Mr. C and I were there a few years ago, we were approached by a local who requested we move our car to the lot rather than park directly at the site. I don’t think we were hurting anything, but alas, it is private property, so it’s best to respect the property owner’s wishes.

As a word of caution, you should know that though access is permitted, Finlarig is an unmaintained, dilapidated ruin and should be considered dangerous. You may want to consider appreciating it from the outside rather than attempting to go in. You wouldn’t want rocks to fall onto your pretty little heads!

Finlarig Castle ruins.
The crumbling interior of Finlarig Castle.
The crumbling interior of Finlarig Castle.

Construction on Finlarig Castle began in the early 17th century by ‘Black’ Duncan Campbell, seventh laird of Glenorchy. Known by the name Black Duncan of the Cowl as well, he seemed to be a man of contrasts. Shrewd, meticulous, and fiercely proud, Campbell was also “an enlightened landlord, an early conservationist, and tree-planter.” (Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs). He was an ambitious man, responsible for the building of several other castles, which earned him another moniker – ‘Black Duncan of the Castles.’

An exposed and crumbling corridor at Finlarig Castle.
An exposed weathered staircase at Finlarig Castle.

Campbell’s Z-plan tower house was built upon a mound that, at one time, was surrounded by a moat. A good bit of Finlarig castle survives today, including the southwest tower, complete with shot holes – as opposed to the other kind. Although you can bet, it had those too! πŸ˜€

Finlarig Castle ruin.
Rob Roy MacGregor is said to have visited Finlarig in around 1713.
Finlarig Castle ruin.
Finlarig Castle ruin and a pit in the ground.
Legend has it that this rectangular, stone-lined pit was where nobility were beheaded (common folk were not given the same luxury-ha- and were executed by being hanged in a nearby tree). However, it could have just as likely served as a water storage tank. What do you think?

Perhaps even more atmospheric (code for creepy) than Finlarig is the nearby Breadalbane Mausoleum. Though it dates to around 1830, it is in just as bad of shape as the castle. I was fascinated by the way it seems to be falling in on itself and the way that, over time, the earth is reclaiming the interior.

A dilapidated and crumbing mausoleum.
Breadalbane Mausoleum. An earlier chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary is thought to have occupied this spot. It would have been the burial location for the Campbells of Breadalbane, including our Black Duncan.
A dilapidated mausoleum.
Breadalbane Mausoleum

The mausoleum had reportedly fallen into disuse by the early 1900s. As such, Sir Gavin Campbell, 17th Laird of Glenorchy (d. 1922), and his wife Alma Graham (d. 1932) are buried nearby.

Two Celtic cross grave markers.
The rather lonely graves of Sir Gavin Campbell, 17th Laird of Glenorchy and his wife Alma Graham.

Well, friends, I hope you have enjoyed this little history of Finlarig Castle. If you have been reading my blog for a while, I’m curious to know what your favorite castle has been thus far. Have you had an opportunity to see any of the ones I have written about? We still have many, many to go, so I hope you’ll stick with me!

I enjoy you guys so much. Thank you for the great community!


16 thoughts on “Finlarig Castle-An Intriguing Ruin near Loch Tay

  • Evocative! Sometimes I think the ruins are, in their own way, as neat as the intact buildings. The imagination can run wild with picturing what it looked like, the people who lived there, what they did.
    I see you didn’t just β€œappreciate it from the outside.” πŸ˜‰ And we’re glad you didβ€”and that you came out safe to show us the pictures!

    • Yes, I totally agree! I like to try and picture myself in the scene when it would have been bustling with activity and full of life. Oh, and I didn’t actually go inside the castle ruin. Just poked my head in to snap some photos. πŸ™‚

  • Great post, Wendy. As a ‘serious castle seeker’ I’d love to seek out this one. Atmospheric is the word – you can tell that from your great pictures. Black Duncan seems a good character. I’m thinking of doing a Scottish medieval and early modern module next year for my degree, so maybe I’ll come across him again. In the meantime, thanks for introducing us to this beautiful castle ruin. πŸ™‚

  • What a fabulous ruin Wendy! I love the spiral staircase. I’ll need to remember this one if I ever travel further north again. Lovely photos and story πŸ™‚

  • Quite lovely. Grand, isn’t it, to discover such hidden wonders. I’ve never seen Finlarig myself, but I think I’d rather had. Thank you for sharing such lovely photos and well composed thoughts.

  • Many of my ancestors were beheaded in that pit, yet we are still here- MacGregor Despite Them!

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