Behind closed doors: Saddell Castle

A tower house on the Kintyre peninsula, restored and maintained by the Landmark Trust, offers both contemporary art and ancient history in a spectacular setting

A 16th-century tower house built by the Bishop of Argyll, Saddell Castle was sensitively restored by the Landmark Trust and is now self-catering holiday accommodation for up to eight people. It sits in a stunning location with views across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran

A 16th-century tower house built by the Bishop of Argyll, Saddell Castle was sensitively restored by the Landmark Trust and is now self-catering holiday accommodation for up to eight people. It sits in a stunning location with views across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran

In 2015, to celebrate 50 years of the Landmark Trust, an addition was made to Saddell Bay on Kintyre’s east coast. Grip, a sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley, was originally intended as no more than a temporary visitor, part of the UK-wide LAND installation commis­sioned to mark the organisation’s birthday celebrations. Two years on, though, and Grip is still here. In fact, the life-size iron figure endlessly staring out to sea has recently been granted permission to stay forever.

Gormley, who is best known for his monumental Angel of the North, personally selected the site from among the 200 properties cared for by the Landmark Trust all over Britain (as well as several abroad), saying that he felt a connection with Saddell Bay’s remote, rugged, elemental position. “The Trust saves buildings that would otherwise disappear and allows us to live within their history,” he remarked in 2015. “Many of them are detached from their original context of use and many are remote. Some were built as follies or towers, made to stand apart using their isolation as a point of punctuation in the landscape, marking a point from which to look at the world at large.”

Many visitors have come to the Mull of Kintyre to see the sculpture and have found themselves just as impressed by the Saddell estate, seduced by the romantic castle and the beautiful bay in front of it. Grip thus fulfils the role Gormley intended for it, as a very effective link between past and present.

It should be possible to visit any of our buildings and to recognise immediately that it is one of ours

Since its purchase in 1975, Saddell Castle has become one of the Landmark Trust’s most popular venues. It made an appear­ance in the video for ‘Mull of Kintyre’, the 1977 hit for Paul McCartney and Wings. It’s a typical Scottish tower house of the type that originated in the 14th century and remained popular thanks to its effective­ness as a fortress. Today, it has been given over to exclusive-use self-catering accom­modation, but this is just the latest of many guises it has taken on over the centuries.

www.landmarktrust.org.uk

DETAILS

Photography Jill Tate for The Landmark Trust
Words Catherine Coyle
Issue 114, p48 – 52