Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Dunbarton Castle (Dunbarton - Fortress of the Britons), Scotland

Dunbarton Castle, Scotland Links to photos

The present situation of Dunbarton, one of the oldest fortified sites in Britain, was first settled by the ancient Britons as the capital of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. The volcanic plug that forms Dunbarton Rock was the site of a fortress of the Britons before the Romans pulled out. It had a continuous role in defense up to the Second World War, 1500 years.

The first record of a settlement was in a letter St Patrick wrote in about 450 AD to King Ceretric, the King of Strathclyde at Alcluith (Clyde Rock). He complained that the Britons had raided his Irish converts. There is archaeological evidence that the Britons at this site were trading with the Romans before their departure in 367 AD.

Not much is known about the history of the site in the Dark Ages. Norse legends feature Rhydderich Hael, king of the Strathclyde Britons 570. There is a legend that Merlin stayed at Alcluith at some point of his reign.

In 756 a besieging army of Picts and Northumbrians captured it, but lost again a few days later.

In 780 Alcluith was burned down, but the who and why are unknown.

In 870 it was a fortress of the capital of Strathclyde when it was besieged by Vikings, Ivar Beinlaus, after his capture of York, and Olaf the White from his base in Ireland. After 15 weeks they captured and destroyed the fort and took everything and everyone, the people being taken as slaves. It is said they took the survivors as slaves to Ireland in what was said to be a fleet of 200 longships.

Strathclyde remained a separate kingdom until 1018 when Malcolm II incorporated it into his kingdom.

After the defeat of King Hakon IV at Largs by King Alexander III in 1263 Dunbarton was no longer an outpost to be constantly fought over.

Not much is known of Dunbarton Castle between 1200 and 1600. The only 2 surviving structure from that period are the Portcullis Arch above the Guard House, built in the 14 th century and the Guard House, built in about 1580.

In 1222 King Alexander II made Dunbarton a Royal Burgh.

In 1333, after the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Haildon Hill, King David II stopped at Dunbarton on his way to France

In 1435 the daughter of James I sailed from Dunbarton to marry the heir to the French throne, Louis.

In 1489 James IV, trying to suppress a rebellion by Lord Darnley, besieged the castle twice. In the second siege the famous cannon Mons Meg was used. This time the king was successful.

In 1514, following the Battle of Flodden,  it was captured by the Earl of Lennox, by digging under the north gate during a night time storm.

In 1523 the Duke of Albany garrisoned it with French troops for a short time.

By 1530 it was held by James V.

In 1545 it was captured by the supporters of Mary Queen of Scots, who stopped there on the way to France. She returned to it again  in 1561.

In 1568 she escaped from Lochleven Castle and was heading for Dunbarton when her forces were attacked and defeated at the Battle of  Langside. She escaped to England but was captured for the last time.

On the 1 May 1571 her supporters at the castle were defeated and the castle was lost.

Dunbarton was famous for ship building, their most famous ship being Cutty Sark, the fast tea clipper.

More Information:



Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 30/09/2011

Pacific Islands
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading