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home page events castle tours SCA Castle Tour To Kintail & Skye - Sep 2004


SCA Castle Tour To Kintail & Skye - Sep 2004


September


Dun Troddan

Dun Troddan

DUN TRODDAN

Location - OS map 33 (NG833-172)

South Highland - About 2.5 miles south-east of Glenelg north of minor road west of A87 at Shiel Bridge, north of river, near Corrary, in Gleann Beag. Situated close by Dun Telve.

Structure

Dun Troddan is a fine Broch with substantial sections of walling surviving. The structure of the building consists of two drystone skins of outer wall held together with horizontal stone slabs. It is possible to go up to a section of stairway within the gallery. Off the low entrance doorway is a corbelled guard cell.

Brief History

When the structure was excavated in 1920 a circle of posts was located in the central area, presumably these posts that would have supported an upper timber floor.


Dun Telve

Dun Telve

DUN TELVE

Location - OS map 33 (NG829-172)

South Highland - About 2 miles south-east of Glenelg north of minor road west of A87 at Shiel Bridge, north of river, near Corrary, in Gleann Beag. Situated close by Dun Troddan.

Structure

With Dun Troddan this is one of the best preserved Brochs in Scotland. A large portion of wall is missing but within the remaining sector of wall are scarcements to support upper floors, and voids above the interior doors. The entrance has a bar hole and door checks. There are the remains of various outbuildings around the exterior of the broch, but these may be of a later date.

Brief History

Artefacts recovered when the site was excavated included pottery fragments, stone cups (possibly used as lamps) and a few quern stones.


Bernera Barracks

Bernera Barracks

BERNERA BARRACKS

Location - OS map 33 (NG815-197)

South Highland - About 0.3 miles north of Glenelg on minor roads west of the A87 at Shiel Bridge, on east side of Glenelg Bay, at the mouth of Glen More.

Structure

Dates from the 1720s and consists of ruined ranges of buildings around a courtyard with defensive walls which are pierced by shot-holes.

Brief History

Built to control the crossing to Skye, Bernera Barracks and had accommodation for 200 men. The garrison was reduced after the failure of the Jacobite rising in 1746. It was abandoned about 1800. The road to Glenelg mostly follows the course of an old military way.


Caisteal Mhicleod
Caisteal Mhicleod

CAISTEAL MHICLEOD

Location - OS map 33 (NG816-202)

South Highland - About 7 miles west of Shiel Bridge, on minor road west of A87 at Shiel Bridge, near Galltair, Glenelg.

Structure

A ruined Iron Age dun consisting of the remains of a massive semi-circular wall and outworks all heavily overgrown with ferns and bracken.

Brief History

It was still in use in the 16th century, and is associated with Alastair Crotach MacLeod. It is said that a careless nursmaid dropped a baby from one of the windows.


Eilean Donan Castle - rebuilt in the 20th century

Eilean Donan Castle - rebuilt in the 20th century

EILEAN DONAN CASTLE

Location - OS map 33 (NG881-259)

South Highland - About 8 miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh, south of Dornie, on an island, on the A87, on the north side of loch Duich at the mouth of Loch Long.

Structure

One of the most beautifully situated of all Scottish castles, Eilean Donan castle consists of a 13th century wall surrounding a courtyard.

In one corner of the courtyard stands a strong 14th century keep of three storeys and a gabled garret. Adjoining ranges of buildings and fortifications were added in later centuries. The keep has a flush parapet, with open rounds and corbelled machicolations. The main entrance is up a flight of stairs from the courtyard. The basement is barrel-vaulted, and the hall is on the first floor with private chambers above.

Brief History

Alexander III gave the lands to Colin Fitzgerald, son of the Irish Earl of Desmond and Kildare, for his help in defeating King Hakkon and his Norsemen at the Battle of Largs in 1263. The family changed their name to MacKenzie, and Eilean Donan became their main stronghold. Robert the Bruce was sheltered here in 1306. in 1331 Randolph, Earl of Moray executed 50 men at Eilean Donan and adorned the castle walls with their severed heads. The castle was captured by the Earl of Huntly in 1504, and in 1509 the MacRaes became constables of the castle. In 1539 Eilean Donan was besieged by Donald Gorm MacDonald, a claimant to the Lordship of the Isles, but he was killed by an arrow shot from the castle. William MacKenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth, had it garrisoned with Spanish troops during the Jacobite rising of 1719, But three British frigates battered it into submission with cannon, and it was blown up from within. Although completely ruinous it was rebuilt in the 20th century.


Caisteal Maol
Caisteal Maol

CAISTEAL MAOL

Location - OS map 33 (NG758-264)

South Highland - About 0.5 miles east of Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye, on minor road and on foot south of A850 in Kyleakin, on the east of the harbour.

Structure

Overlooking the ferry crossing between Skye and the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh, Caisteal Maol "bare castle", is a very ruined 15th century keep, of which only two walls remain to second-floor level. Large parts collapsed in 1949 and 1989.

Brief History

According to tradition, the castle was built by a Norse princess called 'Saucy Mary' who was married to a MacKinnon chief. Their main source of income was from tolls on ships sailing through the Kyle. It is said that she was buried beneath a large cairn on top of Beinn na Callaich ('Mountain of the old woman'). In the middle ages the castle was known as Dunakin, and a stronghold of the MacKinnons. In 1513 after James IV defeat and death at Flodden, a great meeting of highland chiefs was held here in an attempt to restore the Lordship of the Isles, but the attempt failed. The castle was probably abandoned sometime around the middle of the 17th century when the MacKinnons moved to Kilmarie. The MacKinnons fought for the Marquis of Montrose at both Auldearn and Inverlochy in 1645, a MacKinnon regiment fought for Charles II at Worcester, and they were Jacobites, fighting at Sheriffmuir in 1715 and Glenshiel in 1719. The chief of the MacKinnons sheltered Bonnie Prince Charlie after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, for which he was given the recipe, of a whisky liqueur, although the original recipe used cognac. In 1951 a hoard of gold coins was found hidden in a chink of masonry on the outer face of one of the walls. Although very ruined, the remains have now been secured - rather too late as with many of the castles in the islands.


Duntulm Castle

Duntulm Castle

DUNTULM CASTLE

Location - OS map 23 (NG410-743)

South Highland - About 6.5 miles north of Uig on the west side of Skye, on a promontory above the shore, west and north of the hotel at Duntulm.

Structure

On a strong site once cut off on the landward side by a ditch and protected on the other sides by cliffs and steep slopes. Duntulm castle consists of a very ruined 15th century keep, with the remains of 17th century ranges, around a courtyard. The vaulted basement of the keep remains. It was once a strong and comfortable fortress and residence.

Brief History

Duntulm was originally an Iron age broch or dun, later used by the Norsemen because of its strong position. Little of the early castle of the MacLeods remains, most of the existing ruin dating from from when Trotternish was held by the MacDonalds of Sleat in the 17th century after they had removed from Dun Sciath. James V visited the castle in 1540.

Hugh MacDonald was imprisoned and starved to death in a dungeon here after he had tried to seize the lands of Trotternish by murdering his kin. He was given only salted beef and no water, and died raving. The castle was abandoned around 1730 when the MacDonalds moved to Monkstadt House, then Armadale castle in Sleat The last tall upstand of masonry fell in a storm in the 1980s.


Dunvegan Castle - home of the MacLeods

Dunvegan Castle - home of the MacLeods

DUNVEGAN CASTLE

Location - OS map 23 (NG247-491)

South Highland About 1 mile north of the village of Dunvegan on the Island of Skye, on minor road north of the A850, on the east shore of Loch Dunvegan.

Structure

Dunvegan Castle consists of a massive 14th century keep, a 16th century tower known as the Fairy Tower, and an adjoining hall block from the 17th century, as well as a later wing.

Brief History

The Fairy Tower was built by Alasdair Crotach MacLeod, whose fine tomb is at St Clements Chuirch at Rodel on Harris. The castle was completely restored in 1840-50, and given ornamental turrets and modern battlements in the 19th century.

It was repaired after a fire in 1938-40. The castle has been continuously by the chiefs of MacLeod since 1270, who trace their ancestry back to Leod, son of Olaf the Black, Norse king of the Isle of Man. It is still owned by the 29th chief of MacLeod. Dunvegan is the home of the famous Fairy Flag 'Am Bratach Sith' in Gaelic.There are many legends surrounding this piece of silk, which is now reduced in size (from pieces being removed and kept for luck) and somewhat threadbare. One is that it was given to one of the chiefs by his Fairy wife at their parting. This is said to have taken place at the Fairy Bridge, three miles to the north-east at the meeting of two rivers and two roads. The chief had married his wife thinking she was a mortal woman, but she was only permitted to stay with him for 20 years before returning to Fairyland. The flag, however originates from the middleeast, and it has been dated between 400 and 700 AD, predating the castle by hundreds of years. The flag is believed to give victory to the clan whenever it is unfurled, and reputedly did so at the battles of Glendale in 1490 and Trumpan in 1580.

The Fairy Flag was also believed to make the marriage of the MacLeods fruitful, when draped over the marriage bed, and to charm the Herrings out of Dunvegan Loch when unfurled. Belief in its powers was such that during the second world war pilots from the clan carried a picture of the flag as a talisman. Other interesting items at Dunvegan include a drinking horn, 'Rory Mor's Horn', holding several pints of claret, which the heir of the MacLeods had to empty in one go; and the Dunvegan Cup, gifted to the clan by the O'Neils of Ulster in 1596. There are also mementoes of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald, and information about St Kilda, which was formerly a property of the family. At Borreraig was a college of piping of the MacCrimmons, renowned pipers to the MacLeod chiefs.


Dun Beag

Dun Beag

DUN BEAG

Location - OS map 32 (NG339-386)

South Highland - About 8 miles south of Dunvegan, on the Isle of Skye, on foot north of the A863, north-west of Struanmor.

Structure

Dun Beag (small dun) is a well preserved broch on a small knoll. The entrance passageway, and adjoining cell and mural stair rising about 20 steps all survive.

Brief History

The broch was occupied in the 18th century, and finds from here included pottery, an armlet of glass, a gold ring, bronze objects, and glass beads as well as coins from the reigns of Henry II, Edward I, James IV, George II and George III.


THANKS TO OUR HOSTS


Details here are extracted from –
Nigel Tranter – The Fortified House in Scotland – Volume 5 – North and West Scotland
Martin Coventry – The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter – The Castles of Western and Northern Scotland


(2) Related articles: eilean donan castle | dun troddan

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