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-Cjuarrie, who in turn parted with it to Campbell of Fossil, who later on sold it to A. C. Guthrie in 1865, and on September 11, 1911, it was sold to the present chief of MacLean, by W. Murray Guthrie, the official announcement having been made by MacIlleathan, himself, before the annual meeting of the Clan MacLean Association, held in Glasgow, on the evening of October 25, 1911. But the public journals had taken it up before, and the news rapidly spread to every place where the English language was spoken. Letters of warm-hearted congratulations were sent to the Chief from all quarters, and the event awakened a responsive enthusiasm in the hearts of the clansmen.
It was known to Mr. John MacLean, for sixteen years the chairman of the financial committee, of the Clan MacLean Association, that the Chief desired that the castle should be restored to the family. So he kept his watchful eye on the estate and when he learned that the Castle was in the market, at once notified the Chief, and the latter appointed the former, together with Mr. Charles J. MacLean to be his business agents. The business was conducted with judgment and dispatch. Although the purchase embraced only thirty acres, yet with rare foresight Mr. John MacLean insisted that an option on four hundred adjoining acres should be had, to be good for two years. This option was closed on August 23, 1912, so that the demesne of Duard Castle embraces a large tract, and, in reality, makes the chief of MacLean a Highland land proprietor.
In his announcement to the Association the Chief declared it to be his purpose to strengthen and restore the castle. For this purpose he employed Dr. J. J. Burnet to prepare plans along lines of a design to approximate as exactly as possible to that of the castle when in its great strength, and then proceed with the undertaking. During the late Autumn of 1911, Dr. Burnet began his excavations of the earth within the walls and for quite an area" without, and trenched to a depth of eight feet. During this process many interesting finds were made,—discovered the old kitchen window and the well in the castle,—the latter being in the center of the keep floor, and entering the solid rock to a depth of sixteen feet, and also disclosed the doorway to the basement floor, with a stair leading to the great hall on the main floor of the keep. A feature of great interest to students of architecture is the careful way in which the sanitary and drainage arrangements bad been planned. In the accumulation of centuries were found many coins, vases, glass and pottery, dice, an old chain purse, a curious apothecary's measure and mortar, candle snuffers, and cannon balls lying in the ground and others embedded in the walls. One of the trenches on the exterior discloses the foundation for a stone wall, towards the southwestern extremity, and just east of it the old passage way leading from the bay to the door of the castle was uncovered. It is a hand laid work of cobble stones, and withstood the wear of centuries. The cannon balls lying in the walls were taken out, and all stone injured by the different bombardments replaced, so that the outer wall presents its original appearance.
Before closing this chapter, notice should be taken of the following:
A letter from Niall Campbell, dated at Inverary, Jan. 7. 1913, directed to the Chief of MacLean, shows that two days before he found an account rendered by an Inverary builder to the earl of Argyle for repairs of an expensive nature done to Duart in May, June, and July, 1681. Its interest lies in the names given to the rooms in the castle, which are Soir—nan oive, —The Golden Tower; "Tailgeour Tower;;" "The Laid Hall;" "The North Cungie Round," "The Bartizans." The fact that extensive repairs were made proves the castle had been greatly damaged; whether from the wars of Montrose of 1645, or the expeditions 1678-80, is not known.
The following is a copy of a letter found by Lady MacLean in an ancient book, in Mellville Castle Library, Fifeshire.
Sir John MacLean of Dowart to David Earl of Leven, Intimating His Own Surrender at Dowart Castle and Protesting His Loyalty.
Dowart Castle, 26 March 1708.
Upon the receipt of your lordship's orders, signified to me by Captain Were in his letter, I immediately in obedience to them repaired hither, and putt myself under his custodie. My Lord I shall never be wanting in any testimonie I am capable to give of my deuty to the queen, yet I can not forbeare regreting my misfortune in being debarred the opportunity of showeing actively my zeale for her Majesty's service. Whatever follies I have been guilty of I never was capable of a treacherous or base action, and besides the deuty I owe the queen, I have all the ties of gratitude that can bind a man of honour. If her Majestie has any objections to trye the fidelity of her subjects, I pray God they may be as reddie to sacrifice there lives for her interest as I am, and that those who would unjustlie give sinistrous impressiones of me, as perhapes they are more capable to serve her, may be so reddie to spill there blood for her service as I would be. I have given instructions to all those of my family with whom I have interest to testifie there zeale, if occasion offers, for her Majestie's service, and I can assure your lordship you may depend on them in there mean capacitie, and for me, my lord, all her Majestie's commands shall be cheerfullie obey'd. I am, my lord, your lordship's most obedient and most faithful servant,