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Castles of Scotland
Toward Castle


Toward CastleToward Castle was the home of the chiefs of Clan Lamont, although they were originally styled "of Inveryne" a charter was granted in 1472 confirming them in possession of the lands at the South End of the East Cowal Peninsular and making those of Inveryne into a barony.

Sir John Lamont, 10th Chief, purchased further lands at Toward from James V in 1535 and in 1563 entertained Mary, Queen of Scots at the Castle. It is believed the castle was nothing more than a keep with walls until the coming visit of Mary and rooms and the great hall were hastily added for her visit. Mary, before she left Toward, planted a tree which lived to a great age. The tree was felled in 1818 by Lord Provost Finlay of Glasgow and he had a crown made from the wood which was presented to the tenth Duke of Hamilton and the crown is still preserved in the dining room at Dungravel in Lanarkshire.

Mary departed the next day and her destination was Southannan on the Ayrshire coast just south of Fairlie which means she sailed across the forth and most likely in the birlinn of Sir John, clan chief. The Lord of the Isles was at Toward on September 1, 1579 to set pen to an allegiance between the Lamonts and the McDonalds. As there was no anchorage at Toward, the birlinns were beached for the night and , while all repaired t o the tall battlemented Toward that was the resting place of bards and makers of song....... to the dwelling that was not niggardly, wherein was the roar of pipes, and the sounds of harps, whith gleam of silver cups. making the wine flowed free.

Sir John, the 14th chief, at that time received a letter from Montrose stating he was commanded by King Charles II who had placed himself in the hands of the Scots Army of the Covenant, then in England, to lay down his arms and he was ordering John to do the same. This was no easy decision for Lamont as the castle was under attack by a large force of Campbells thirsting for revenge for the part the Lamonts had played in the Royalist campaign of terror in Argyll. Campbell of Ardlinglas, the commander of the attacking force, incidentally, was the brother of Lady Lamont. Most of the cadets of the Campbells were represented among it's officers and the Rev. Colin MacLachlan, minister of Lochgoilhead was there in the role of the chosen instrument of divine vengeance. After a fortnight, with the Lamonts cut off by land and sea, the Campbells brought up cannon and bombarded the castle for 3 days. Sir John agreed to parlay and signed a capitulation which guaranteed that he, his brothers, soldiers, wives and children would be allowed to go free with their baggage. The ink was scarcely dry when the Campbells with the excuse, "no capitulations should be kept with traitors to God and his covenant" seized and bound the garrison, ill-treated and killed 36 women and children, pillaged and burned the house and it's plantations. The men and boys were taken to Dunoon where 200 of then were slaughtered and the surviving women and children were carried away in boats to beg or starve. The chief's sister, Isobel, stripped to her shift by the covenant soldiery, managed to hide her brother's copy of the surrender document with the signatures in the coils of her hair. The Marquis of Argyll was executed in 1661 with the massacre of Toward being one of his charges.

The Lamonts subsequently lived at Ardlamont and the ruined Toward was sold in 1809, being acquired by Kirkman Findlay. Toward is now in the care of the Clan Lamont Society.


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