and their tradional seat of
This powerful branch of Clan Donald supported the Lordship of the Isles with nyvaigs (similar to a Viking galley) and warriors. The Lords of the Isles always considered themselves a sovereign kingdom in the Celtic sense. They considered themselves “children of the soil” and the Saxon Scottish Kings and Norman English Kings as foreign invaders with no right or claim to the land or thrones. They were “loyal” to whatever king recognized the Lordship of the Isles as a sovereign kingdom (be it Norse, Scottish, or English). Scotland had attempted invasion of the Lordship several times increasing Clan Donald’s allegiance to England. One exception was Angus Og who befriended Robert the Bruce before either man rose to a position of power. Angus Og brought 5,000 clansmen to Bannockburn and the Bruce sent them into battle on his right flank with the words, “My Hope is Constant in Thee” which became the motto of Clanranald. The lands of Lochaber, were granted to Angus Og by Robert the Bruce after Bannockburn. Angus Og’s son, Good John of Islay, became the next Lord of the Isles and Good John’s eldest son, Ranald by Amie MacRuairi, was the father of the Clanranald branch.
and their traditional seat of
The ruins of Mingary castle (Gaelic mhionn ghairaidh = oath of a fertile
field was built to the same design as Castle Tioram in Clanranald country. Its origins are not recorded, but it was occupied by the MacIains of Ardnamurchan until seized by the Scottish King upon the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles in
The MacIains of Ardnamurchan are descended from Iain Sprangoch, Gaelic meaning John the Bold, who was the son of Angus Mhór, the 4th Lord of the Isles. Angus Mhór was awarded the lands of Ardnamurchan in 1284 for his participation in the assembly that declared the Maid of Norway heiress to the crown of Scotland. Like many Clan Donald chiefs Iain Sprangoch gave allegiance to whatever crown acknowledged his right to govern the lands he received from his father. This often put him at odds with neighbouring clans and even the other branches of Clan Donald.
The English King Edward I granted Iain Sprangoch "the dignity of Baron of the
Exchequer of England” during the same period his brother, Angus Og and most of
Clan Donald supported Robert the Bruce against King Edward (Longshanks). The
Ardnamurchan branch were one of the few branches of Clan Donald to embrace the
Reformation when most of Clan Donald remained Catholic or Episcopalian. There
were many marriages between Clan Campbell and several branches of Clan Donald,
but most frequently with the MacIains of Ardnamurchan. Although the
Ardnamurchan leadership embraced many changes that occurred in Scotland the one
change they could not accept was the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles.
It was John of Islay's 1462 treaty with the English King Edward IV (that the
Lords of the Isles would rule the Highlands as an English vassal if England
conquered the Lowlands) that lead the Scottish Parliament to require the
forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles in 1493. When the attempt to restore
the Lordship of the Isles in 1540 failed King James V proclaimed the Lordship
of the Isles would forever be the inherent right of the eldest son of the
reigning Scottish monarch.
Ardtornish Castle is situated in the grounds of the Ardtornish estate in Morvern, on the west coast of Scotland. It stands at the seaward end of a promontory which extends in a southerly direction into the Sound of Mull, approximately a mile south-east of the village of Lochaline, Highland. The castle was one of the principal seats of the high chiefs of Clan Donald from the early 14th to late 15th century.
It was at Ardtornish Castle that John of Islay, Lord of the Isles, 6th chief of Clan Donald died in the 1380's and from where his funeral procession sailed through the Sound of Mull to the Isle of Iona.
His son and successor, Donald of Islay, Lord of the Isles granted charters dated at Ardtornish, at least two of which have survived, one in Latin and the other in Gaelic, and it was from here, according to tradition, that his galley fleet sailed on their way to transport the vassals of the Isles to the west coast of Ross-shire where they landed to begin their invasion in support of Donald's claim to the Earldom of Ross which resulted in the indecisive Battle of Harlaw in 1411.
Also at Ardtornish Castle, John's great-grandson, also named John of Islay, the fourth and last Lord of the Isles, met the commissioners of King Edward IV of England in 1461 to negotiate the well-known Treaty of Ardtornish-Westminster by which, in return for becoming loyal subjects of the King of England, John, his kinsman Donald Balloch of Dunnyvaig and the Glens and the forfeited Earl of Douglas were each to have a third of the kingdom of Scotland, with generous pecuniary rewards until the conquest of the kingdom had been completed.
The revelation of this treaty by the English government to the government of Scotland in 1474 resulted in the loss of the Earldom of Ross the following year, and John's final forfeiture as Lord of the Isles followed in 1493. Following John's forfeiture the lands of Ardtornish remained for a time in the hands of the Crown but were eventually given to the Clan MacLean chief of Duart Castle, who had already acquired large tracts of land in Morvern.
The castle was probably abandoned around the end of the seventeenth century, by which time Ardtornish and the other Morvern estates of the MacLeans had been devoured by the Campbell Earls of Argyll.