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Castle House Museum Dunoon

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Castle House, Fox, 2009
Castle House

Castle House Museum, Dunoon, is located within Castle House, a mansion which Lord Provost Ewing of Glasgow had built as his holiday home after he bought the land around the town's ruined medieval castle. This was in 1824, after which many other wealthy businessmen, especially from Glasgow, followed his example, leading to the plethora of big houses, mansions, and villas which came to populate the Firth of Clyde in Victorian times.

During the 1970s, local reports tell of Castle House being used to house the town's library.

The museum is operated by a team of volunteers, and shows the history of Dunoon and Cowal from the neolithic period to the modern age, and includes displays on Highland Mary (locally Hielan Mary), Going Doon the Watter, Cowal at War, and the Victorians.


The museum was set up by the late Arthur Allan, and is now a registered charity operated by a trust. A legacy from from one of the founder members, Miss Josephine Bennett, allowed the Trust to extend the range of exhibits and develop its service to the local community.

The museum's first exhibition was set up within the town's Argyll Hotel, and featured models of Clyde steamers and related items. The limitations of this venue meant that an offer from Argyll and Bute Council to provide part of Castle House at a nominal rent was gladly accepted, and much dedicated work by the museum's volunteers, aided by members of the community who have donated or lent items for display, has produced a museum which tells the story of Cowal all the way from the time of Stone Age up to the Cold War and the arrival of the American nuclear submarines on the Holy Loch.

Highland Mary

Highland Mary statue, 2006
Highland Mary statue
© John McLeish

The museum's logo is taken from the memorial which was erected on Castle Hill in 1896, on the 100th anniversary of the death of Robert Burns. Known as Highland Mary, the statue shows Mary looking towards Ayrshire where she plighted her troth in ancient Scottish fashion with her beloved Rabbie. This was done by standing on the opposite banks of a burn clasping one hand each in the running water while their other hands held Mary’s bible. As long as the running water flows and the Bible holds true the love will last.

Opening times - CHECK current details before travelling!

The museum is open from Easter (Good Friday) until the last week of October.

  • Monday to Saturday 10:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Sunday 2.00p.m. – 4.30p.m.

Admission Charges

  • Adult £2.00
  • Concessions £1.50
  • Accompanied Children: Free of Charge
  • Groups, school parties etc are welcome, prior notification helpful.


  • Toilets are available within the museum for patrons, with public toilets also located nearby.
  • Free car parking is available for visitors to Castle House, with further public spaces located nearby.


Castle House Museum is situated in the Castle Gardens opposite Dunoon Pier.

Castle House Museum
Castle Gardens
PA23 7HH

Tel: 44 (0) 1369 701422

email: [email protected]


Displays in the museum

From Hielan Mary Tableau
Hielan Mary Tableau
 From Doon the Watter, Fox, 2009
Doon the Watter
From Cowal at War, Fox, 2009
From Cowal at War

From How we lived, Fox, 2009
From How we lived
Steamer model display, Fox, 2009
Steamer model display

External links

Related Canmore/RCAHMS and ScotlandsPlaces (SP) entries:-



Aerial views



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