Built in the mid-1400's on land granted to Clan Lamont
by James III
, Toward Castle
was the seat of the clan until its destruction in 1646. Now in ruins, it is located south of Dunoon
on the tip of the Cowal
peninsula. Evidence that it was indeed a fine structure in its day is given by the fact that Mary, Queen of Scots
was entertained there in 1563.
The structure was roughly triangular in plan, with a multi-story keep at the southern point, containing the family apartments. Along the eastern wall ran the hall, with the kitchen at the south end. The gatehouse was on the north wall, just to the west of the chapel. The engravings on the entry arch are considered to be excellent examples of early renaissance decorative architecture.
The destruction of Toward Castle came in late June of 1646. Following the surrender of King Charles I, the Campbells took the opportunity to attack Lamont lands in retaliation for Lamont attacks on Campbell lands early in the English Civil War. After a 3 day siege and cannon bombardment of both Toward Castle and Ascog, Sir John Lamont agreed to capitulation under guarantee of safe conduct. Once the terms were signed, however, the Campbell commander leapt up with a cry of, "No capitulations should be kept with traitors to God and his covenant!", the Campbell forces proceeded to slay several Lamont women and children, as well as taking many Lamont noblemen to Dunoon to be executed. It's said that when the tree from which they were hanged was cut down, blood gushed forth from the severed roots. However, this act would prove to be the downfall of the Campbell Marquis of Argyll, when Sir John's sister, Isobel managed to hide the Lamont's copy of the surrender document in her hair, allowing it to be used as evidence against him. The Marquis of Argyll was excecuted in 1661, with the massacre of the Lamonts as one of the charges against him.