Argyll (sometimes also called Argyllshire) is one of the most diverse and beautiful counties in Scotland. It sits on the country’s western seaboard, where long sea lochs penetrate deep into the interior and mountains tumble down towards fertile glens.
The name Argyll comes from the Gaelic Earraghaidheal, meaning the coastline of the Gaels. It can truly claim to be the cradle of Scotland, for this was at one time the kingdom of Dalriada, founded by the Scotti who originally came from Ireland in the 6thcentury. Here, at the fortress of Dunadd, they established their capital. From Dunadd, inAD843 Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Dalriada, set off towards Scone in Perthshire (taking the Stone of Destiny with him) to claim the throne of the Picts through his mother’s family, thus uniting the two great northern kingdoms and creating an embryonic Scotland, at that time called Alba. In the11th century, the Lothians (centred on Edinburgh) and Strathclyde (centred on Dumbarton) were absorbed, and Scotland as we largely know it today was formed.
The other great Dalriadan centre was at what is now Dunstaffnage, north of Oban. The site is nowadays occupied by Dunstaffnage Castle, one of the most spectacular fortifications on Scotland’s western seaboard. And the 12th-century Castle Sween, on the shores of Loch Sween, is reckoned to be the oldest surviving stone built castle on the Scottish mainland.
For more free guides in this series, visit the Travel & Holidays pages.