Castle Toward was the Clan Seat of the Lamont Clan and the location of the
1646 massacre of 200 Lamonts by Clan Campbell.
Most Scots today would have some knowledge
of the Highland massacre of the MacDonalds in Glencoe by soldiers under the direction of Clan Campbell but few would have
heard of a more heinous massacre carried out by the Campbells at Dunoon, on the very doorstep of Lowland Scotland.
Sir John Lamont, 14th chief, who had been
knighted by King Charles; was pressured into joining Argyll, the Campbell chief and his Covenanting army in opposition against
the King during the 17th century wars of Montrose. After the defeat of Campbell forces at Inverlochy, Sir John was taken
prisoner and later switched sides opting to support Montrose and his general, Alastair MacDonald (MacColla), a bitter enemy
of the Campbells. MacDonald along with Highlanders and Irish mercenaries, crossed
Loch Long in boats provided by the Lamonts and landed at the Point of Strone. After defeating a Campbell force, Macolla's
army mustered at Toward and then decended on the Campbell lands. The Lamonts had their share in killing and
plundering particularly in Strachur and Kilmun before returning home to Toward.
In England the King surrendered and ordered his supporters
to lay down their arms and cease hostilities. The Campbells took this opportunity to surround the Lamont castles
of Toward and Ascog. Unable to withstand a long seige and with no hope of reprieve, Sir James surrendered the castles, having
apparently reached honourable terms. The Campbells later ignored the terms of capitulation accusing the lamonts of being
traitors, unworthy of terms.
The Lamonts where bound and kept within the castle, during this
time several women were murdered. The survivors were taken by boats to Dunoon and in the church were sentenced to death. A
large number of Lamont men, women and children, were shot or stabbed to death and they did ‘cause hang upon ane
tree near the number of thirty six persons most of them being special gentlemen of the name of Lamont and vassals to Sir James’.
the half-hanged men, both dead and dying were buried in pits. Sir James and his brothers were kept prisoner for
five years and it would be 16 years before the ringleaders of the massacre were brought to justice and Sir Colin Campbell