American tourists are rescued by fire crews after getting trapped inside a 13th Century castle

A pair of American tourists were rescued by firefighters after they found themselves trapped inside a 13th century castle while holidaying in Scotland.

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen, from Manhattan Beach, California, were so engrossed by Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban in Argyll, on Scotland’s eastern coast that they didn’t realise staff from Historic Environment Scotland had locked up for the day and gone home.   

There was no escape from one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles, with its impregnable walls that are up to 10ft (3m) thick and  60ft (18m) high.

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen, from Manhattan Beach, California, were so engrossed by Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban in Argyll, on Scotland's eastern coast that they didn't realise staff from Historic Environment Scotland had locked up for the day and gone home. They were rescued by fire crew (pictured)

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen, from Manhattan Beach, California, were so engrossed by Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban in Argyll, on Scotland's eastern coast that they didn't realise staff from Historic Environment Scotland had locked up for the day and gone home. They were rescued by fire crew (pictured)

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen, from Manhattan Beach, California, were so engrossed by Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban in Argyll, on Scotland’s eastern coast that they didn’t realise staff from Historic Environment Scotland had locked up for the day and gone home. They were rescued by fire crew (pictured)

On realising they couldn’t get out, the pair called the police and firefighters.

Fire crews managed to open one lock and force another to open a gate and free the unfortunate captives. 

MailOnline has contacted Historic Environment Scotland for an explanation of how staff managed to lock the building without first checking all guests had left. 

In a statement the organisation told MailOnline: ‘While spending a night in a historic castle such as Dunstaffnage might seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity, we’d like to thank those visitors for their patience and hope that their visit wasn’t spoiled too much!’

Niki said on Facebook during Wednesday’s incident: ‘What a nightmare this is. 

‘It’s still fun, but I can’t believe the mess we’re causing.’

In another post she wrote: ‘What a day. We just got rescued. 

‘We somehow got locked in the castle and had to call the police and fire brigade to get us out.

‘I walked the walls for hours thinking of how many hundreds of years this castle was defended from invaders and how impenetrable it was.’

Fire crews managed to open one lock and force another to open a gate and free the unfortunate captives

Fire crews managed to open one lock and force another to open a gate and free the unfortunate captives

Fire crews managed to open one lock and force another to open a gate and free the unfortunate captives

Niki said on Facebook: 'What a nightmare this is. It's still fun, but I can't believe the mess we're causing.'

Niki said on Facebook: 'What a nightmare this is. It's still fun, but I can't believe the mess we're causing.'

Niki said on Facebook: ‘What a nightmare this is. It’s still fun, but I can’t believe the mess we’re causing.’

Niki said in a video posted online: ‘They mentioned they might have to break down the castle door and I was not going to let them ruin it. 

‘I would rather have slept there. 

‘What an experience, rode home in the back of the police van.’  

Dunstaffnage Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles and was built before 1240.

It is thought to have been built by Duncan MacDougall, son of Dubhgall, Lord of Lorn, and grandson of the great Somerled, who was the self-styled ‘King of the Isles’. 

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen (pictured) took getting trapped inside the castle in good spirits

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen (pictured) took getting trapped inside the castle in good spirits

Niki Ghofranian and Ritta Nielsen (pictured) took getting trapped inside the castle in good spirits

It was built during tumultuous times in Argyll, as the Kingdoms of Scotland and Norway fought for control of the Hebrides. 

Centuries later, in 1746, Dunstaffnage welcomed Flora MacDonald, one of its most famous guests.

She was visiting her brother when she met Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Stuart claim to the throne of Great Britain, who was fleeing from the Redcoats.

Flora agreed to help him get away and dressed him up as her serving girl, ‘Betty Burke’.

Scottish Fire and Rescue confirmed: 'We mobilised the fire engine from Oban after a report of two females locked in the castle, the police were also in attendance.

Scottish Fire and Rescue confirmed: 'We mobilised the fire engine from Oban after a report of two females locked in the castle, the police were also in attendance.

Scottish Fire and Rescue confirmed: ‘We mobilised the fire engine from Oban after a report of two females locked in the castle, the police were also in attendance.

She was later arrested and imprisoned at Dunstaffnage, before moving south to the Tower of London.     

Scottish Fire and Rescue confirmed: ‘We mobilised the fire engine from Oban after a report of two females locked in the castle, the police were also in attendance. 

‘Two females were removed from the castle.’

A member of staff at the castle said: ‘There are two locks on the door and the firefighters had a thing that could turn the first lock.

A member of staff at the castle (pictured) said: 'There are two locks on the door and the firefighters had a thing that could turn the first lock. They then managed to open the second lock, it was slightly damaged but it has been repaired.'

A member of staff at the castle (pictured) said: 'There are two locks on the door and the firefighters had a thing that could turn the first lock. They then managed to open the second lock, it was slightly damaged but it has been repaired.'

A member of staff at the castle (pictured) said: ‘There are two locks on the door and the firefighters had a thing that could turn the first lock. They then managed to open the second lock, it was slightly damaged but it has been repaired.’

‘They then managed to open the second lock, it was slightly damaged but it has been repaired.’

A spokesman for Oban firefighters said: ‘We were called to assist a woman who was locked inside the castle at Dunstaffnage.’

When asked if it was a regular occurrence, the spokesman added: ‘No, it was a bit of an unusual request for us. But we are always happy to help.’ 

A spokesman for Oban firefighters said: 'We were called to assist a woman who was locked inside the castle at Dunstaffnage.'

A spokesman for Oban firefighters said: 'We were called to assist a woman who was locked inside the castle at Dunstaffnage.'

A spokesman for Oban firefighters said: ‘We were called to assist a woman who was locked inside the castle at Dunstaffnage.’

When asked if it was a regular occurrence, the spokesman added: 'No, it was a bit of an unusual request for us. But we are always happy to help.'

When asked if it was a regular occurrence, the spokesman added: 'No, it was a bit of an unusual request for us. But we are always happy to help.'

When asked if it was a regular occurrence, the spokesman added: ‘No, it was a bit of an unusual request for us. But we are always happy to help.’

What is Dunstaffnage Castle? 

Dunstaffnage Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles. The building, which is partially ruined, is three miles north east of Oban and surrounded by sea.

The structure, which dates back to the 13th Century, is believed to have been built by the MacDougall lords, but has changed hands among various owners in the centuries since.   

Dunstaffnage, which name translates as ‘Fort Headland of the staff’, is now  maintained by Historic Scotland, and is open to the public. A full price ticket cost £6. 

Dunstaffnage Castle was built before 1240 on a huge rock above the Firth of Lorn

Dunstaffnage Castle was built before 1240 on a huge rock above the Firth of Lorn

Dunstaffnage Castle was built before 1240 on a huge rock above the Firth of Lorn 

The castle was built in the early 13th Century,  probably by Duncan MacDougall, who died in 1240, son of Dubhgall, Lord of Lorn, and grandson of the great Somerled, who was the self-styled ‘King of the Isles’. 

Duncan’s son Ewen probably later added the three projecting round towers, to show his power and improve the castle’s defences during a bitter fight for control of the Hebrides between the kingdoms of Scotland and Norway. 

The King of Scots won control of the region in 1266, but the castle continued to keep busy during the Wars of Independence (1296–1356).  

In 1308, the castle was captured by Robert the Bruce and stayed in royal hands until 1469.

In the 1470s, the castle was passed to the Campbell earls of Argyll, meaning it lost its royal status. 

It then endured three centuries of struggles between the Crown and the Campbells for control. 

Centuries later, in 1746, Dunstaffnage took in Flora MacDonald, one of its most famous guests.

She was visiting her brother when she met Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Stuart claim to the throne of Great Britain,  who was fleeing from the Redcoats.

Flora agreed to help him get away and dressed him up as her serving girl, ‘Betty Burke’.

She was later arrested and imprisoned at Dunstaffnage, probably inside the great hall and the ‘new house’ which visitors can still see.

She was later moved south to the Tower of London.  

A ruined chapel, also from the 13th Century, lies about 490ft (150m) to the south-west of the castle, still within its grounds.

The chapel was also built by Duncan MacDougall of Lorn.

 

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