- Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker (
Scottish Gaelic: "Caisteal an Stalcaire") is a four story tower houseor keeppicturesquely set on a tidal islet on Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe. It is located about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) north east of Port Appin, Argyll, Scotlandand visible from the A828 main road about mid-way between Obanand Glen Coe. The islet is accessible (with difficulty) from the shore at low tide. coord|56|34|16.64|N|5|23|10.79|W|type:landmark_region:GB.The name 'Stalker' comes from the Gaelic "Stalcaire", meaning 'hunter' or 'falconer', and should therefore be pronounced 'stal-ker', with the 'l' sounded, not as in the pronunciation of the English word 'stalker'. In recent times the castle was brought to fame by the Monty Pythonteam, appearing in their film " Monty Python and the Holy Grail". It also appeared in the films "Highlander" and "". The Castle's implausibly picturesque appearance, with its bewitching island setting against a dramatic backdrop of mountains, has made it a favourite subject for postcards and calendars, and something of a cliché image of Scottish Highland scenery. It should be noted, however, that Stalker is entirely authentic; it is one of the best-preserved medieval tower-houses surviving in western Scotland.
The site is similar to the prehistoric
crannogs, but the official website [http://www.castlestalker.com/castle.htm#History history page] gives the origin of the castle as being a small fort built around 1320 by Clan MacDougallwho were then Lords of Lorn. Around 1388 the Stewarts took over the Lordship of Lorn, and it is believed that they built the castle in its present form around the 1440s. The web-site tells a dramatic story of arguments, murders, hunting visits by the Stewart's relative King James IV of Scotlandand a drunken bet around 1620 resulting in the castle passing to Clan Campbell. After changing hands between these clans a couple of times the Campbells finally abandoned the castle around 1840, when it lost its roof. Then in 1908 a Stewart bought the castle and carried out basic conservation work, and in 1965 Lt. Col. D. R. Stewart Allward acquired the castle and over about ten years fully restored it.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
While the other castles in "
Monty Python and the Holy Grail" were filmed in and around Doune Castle, Castle Stalker appears in the final scene as Castle Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh. First we see the castle from a distance, next John Cleeseuses his outrageous French accent to taunt Arthur from its battlements, then finally a massive attack is launched at the castle with an odd conclusion: The police officers who were investigating the death of the historian earlier in the film arrive and arrest Arthur and the other knights for killing the historian. One of them then turns to the camera and says, "All right, sonny, that's enough, just take off", forcibly ending the movie.
The Castle Today
Castle Stalker is in private ownership, but the official web-site (below) gives details of dates and arrangements by which visits can be made by appointment, subject to advance notice, weather and tides.
* [http://www.castlestalker.com/ Castle Stalker, Appin, Argyll (official web-site of Castle Stalker. virtual tour)]
* [http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/appin/portappin/ Port Appin on Undiscovered Scotland]
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