Originally written for suite101.com and published 05/05/09.
Situated at the top of the spectacular Dollar Glen, in the village of Dollar, Clackmannanshire, Castle Campbell has borne witness to a rather dramatic historical past. Arguably one of the most impressive buildings included in Clackmannanshire’s Tower Trail, it was originally built as a tower house and later extended to include a large hall and guest accommodation.
Historic Castle Campbell’s Tumultuous Past
The earliest record or charter pertaining to the castle and its lands dates from 1465 when the Stewarts of Innermeath and Lorne held them, though shortly afterwards the lands became property of the Campbells of Argyll through marriage. It is believed by some that there was a castle on the site as far back as the 12th century, with suggestions that the mound or motte on which it stands previously held a Norman timber motte and bailey castle.
The castle itself has had something of a tumultuous past, the original structure having come under attack prior to 1466 as part of a family feud, causing it to require the repair and extension work carried out by Colin Campbell in the late 1400s. The castle played host to such varied notaries of Scottish history as Mary Queen of Scots and John Knox.
In the 17th century after the Campbells converted to Protestantism, the 8th Earl supported the Covenanters, leading to the Marquis of Montrose attacking Dollar in 1645. Although the Earl changed sides twice during the ensuing conflict, the castle was all but destroyed by Royalist forces in July of 1654 – though evidence exists that it was actually destroyed some nine years later – and after the restoration of Charles II, the Earl was executed at Edinburgh.
Spectacular Dollar Glen
The glen was originally created some hundreds of millions of years ago as part of the violent geological activity that formed the Ochil hills that tower around it. Later shaped into its current distinctive gorges by the rapid erosion caused by three fast flowing burns, which follow some of the remaining geological faults. The glen’s moist and inaccessible nature has protected it from development and sheltered it from the worst of local industrial pollution.
The glen is home to a wide variety of woodland wildlife, such as brown long-eared bats, pied flycatchers and great spotted woodpeckers among others. There is little human intervention in the plant life, with most work being geared towards maintaining the paths and bridges, and keeping the bracken and rhododendrons at bay. The glen also plays host to annual events such as the Dollar Hill Race and the Dollar Academy triathlon.
Changing Names and Owners
Prior to the castle coming into the hands of the Campbells in the late 15th century the castle was known as Castle Gloom or Glaume – thought to be from the Gaelic ‘glom’ meaning chasm. Apparently the name was changed by an act of parliament in 1489 by James IV. After 1654 the Campbells used Argyll’s Lodgings close to Stirling castle when they visited the lowlands and the estate was sold to Crawford Tait of Harviestoun in 1805.
Although the glen and castle were given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1950, the castle was placed in the care of what is now Historic Scotland. Leading to the strange arrangement of the glen being cared for by NTS and the castle itself by Historic Scotland – entry is currently free to members of both organisations. The castle has been partially restored and in recent years more of the castle has been opened up to visitors.
Getting There and Opening Hours
Dollar village lies east of Stirling along the A91 past Tillicoultry at the foot of the Ochils. Regular buses run from Falkirk, Stirling and Alloa. There are several car parks available on the hill up to the castle and visitors with reduced mobility are advised to use the top car park, as the hill is extremely steep. Visitors intending to approach the castle via the glen are advised to wear sturdy shoes and that the path is unsuitable for pushchairs.
Castle Opening Hours:
Summer (1st April – 30th September) – Daily: 9.30am – 5.30pm
Winter (1st October – 31st March) – Saturday-Wednesday: 9.30am – 4.30pm (Closed Thursday and Friday)
Adults – £4.70
Children – £2.35
Concessions – £3.70