the story

Find Kilmartin Castle on the wild and unspoiled West Coast of Scotland in Argyll & Bute, where it has stood guarding the entrance to Kilmartin Glen, one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes, for nearly 500 years!

 

The place

Kilmartin Glen is a valley, carved by the glaciers of the last Ice age! Scattered with Stone Age and Bronze Age sites, our Glen has so many rich layers of history to share. Including standing stones, burial cairns, medieval stone carvings and Neolithic cup-and-ring rock art markings of the first human inhabitants of Scotland. Around 12,000 years ago, the early Stone Age hunters arrived to live off this fertile region. They survived by hunting and fishing.

Several thousand years later, during the Neolithic period, the first farmers started to propagate this fertile land and shift society into more permanent dwellings. For a period nomadic hunter-gatherers lived here alongside these early farmers.

Utilising the flat fertile ground of the Glacial formed Kilmartin Glen the first farmers planted crops of early grain varieties to make bread, and kept domesticated farm animals. Lady Glassary Wood gives a magical example of the ancient woodland that once covered the entire Glen.

Kilmartin Glen is home to at least 350 ancient monuments, of which 150 are prehistoric. All walking distance from the castle and our quiet village. Nether Largie standing stones and Temple Wood stone circle are some of the best examples of standing stone monuments in Scotland.

The award-winning centre for archeology, Kilmartin Museum, is the perfect starting point to discover the history and relevance of Kilmartin Glen.

Kilmartin Alan Amper 1

The castle

In 1550, the year that chocolate was introduced to Europe and Mary Queen of Scots was Monarch; John Carswell became the first caretaker of Kilmartin Castle.

As many do in Argyll today, John Carswell held down two jobs. In his early 20’s he was Rector of Kilmartin Church and also Tutor to the son of the 4th Earl of Argyll, who in his later years became the 5th Earl of Argyll. He gave John Carswell the position of Bishop of the Isles in 1565 after John translated the Book of Common Order into Gaelic. Together they took Christianity and used it to wield power throughout the Western Isles. Mary Queen of Scots awarded Carswell for his work by handing him control of the imposing Abbey on Iona. In 1565 John Carswell moved from Kilmartin Castle to the grander Carnasserie Castle nearby, now a ruin and open to the public.

For the next 200 years, Kilmartin Castle was held by the Campbell Clan, and at one time John Carswell’s daughter lived there with her husband, one of The Campbells.

Around 1790 Kilmartin Castle fell into ruin, but the ground floor was still in use as a schoolhouse. It is a mystery why the castle was left roofless for the following 200 years. We are grateful that it was overlooked by the Victorians though, who often made windows larger and added ugly extensions to buildings like this one.

In the 1990s, Tom and Olive Clarke, a couple in their 50’s, were out rambling when they discovered and fell in love with Kilmartin Castle. It is easy to see why! They spent the next ten years of summers working on Kilmartin Castle and developing it into a basic country bolt-hole with one shower and three bedrooms.

In 2019 current owners, Stef and Simo spent seven months working with a skilled team of builders and architects on a full restoration of Kilmartin Castle. Overhauling the heating and plumbing throughout, addressing problems with the roof which would leak and the ground floor which would flood, developing five beautiful bedrooms, all en-suite with copper baths and wood-burning stoves. Attention to detail and clever material choices throughout have ensured the rustic magic of Kilmartin Castle remains intact.

The hosts

Hi, We’re Stef & Simo. We used to have stressful day jobs in The Media in Dubai, and a dream to quit the rat race and open our kind of holiday hideaway. The conversation typically started on a trip with, “Wouldn’t it be great to run away and live here”… then it would shift to, “I wonder if there are any cool places for sale around here”.

In 2014 on a winter road trip around Scotland, we fell in love, the dramatic landscape of the West coast felt like the food our souls desperately needed.

Returning to day to day life in Dubai, we missed Scotland, and wondered if this was the significant life change we had been dreaming about.

Then, as if by serendipitous coincidence (or search profiling cookies) we read an article about Kilmartin Castle being for sale. This sounds ridiculous, but we didn’t look at any other properties, we called the agent, we flew back to Scotland to view it, and then we sold all our worldly possessions to buy it.

At the end of 2018, we quit our day jobs then spent a year restoring Kilmartin Castle with a team of architects, builders and at times a bunch of our friends. We also filmed a television show for Channel 4 called The Great Hotel Escape, which turned out to be a great way of documenting our journey.

Having finished the inside, we got to work renovating our gardens in 2021, and now have a beautiful outdoor entertaining area with kitchen, formal raised lawn, orchard, organic vegetable garden and wild swimming pond.

We are incredibly excited to share Kilmartin Castle and this smashing part of Scotland with you!

Stef & Simo x

 

Castle Rooms

Speel
-

Rustic bliss with exposed stone walls,
extravagant fabrics and copper tub

The Snug
-

Unlike any other
in Scotland

Clarke
-

Quite simply…
Coorie

1550
-

Wake up in a 4-poster bed in this grand and historic room

Carswell
-

Bright elegant vibes
with a copper tub

Dinner
-

Light candles
and make memories

Rule
-

Take Kilmartin Castle
for yourself

IT'S ALWAYS SMARTER TO BOOK DIRECT

Room #1
 
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