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 10 ft (3m) thick and  60 ft (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)

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.

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.’

This was followed up by: ‘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

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.’

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.

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

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.

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.’

MailOnline has contacted Historic Environment Scotland for a comment. They have not yet been able to explain how staff managed to locked the pair in. 

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.’

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’. 

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

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

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 

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’.

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

 


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