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Last week, I wrote about the narrowboat vlogs that I’ve been enjoying recently. Tina enjoyed an early look at book 9 of the Vera Stanhope series, The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves. Jean got to indulge her travel fantasy of collecting bits of history when the tide goes out on the Thames with the book Mudlark: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames by Lara Maiklem.
Since it may be a long time before I travel again, I’ve been watching videos of beautiful places, like this one:
Several times in this video, we see a castle on an island, accessed by a gorgeous arched bridge and I really wanted to know where it was. I used these keywords : Scotland island castle arched bridge. That led me immediately to Eilean Donan Castle.
Eilean Donan Castle is sited where three sea lochs meet and was once used to defend Kintail, an area of the Highlands in northwest Scotland.
Like many old places, the history of Eilean Dolan is murky in some places, but it’s thought that the name and original habitation came in the 6th or 7th century. Eilean Dolan means Island of Dolan and probably refers to Saint Donnán of Eigg, an Irish missionary who set out to convert the Picts of Scotland. The island may have been home to a religious community dedicated to that work after he was martyred.
The first defensive castle was probably built in the 12th or 13th century to defend against Viking invasion.
In the next few centuries, the castle was inhabited by various clans, but most often by some combination of Mackenzies and MacRaes, in cooperation with each other.
In 1719, The castle housed Spanish soldiers during the Jacobite uprising. While they waited for weapons from Spain, the English got wind of the plan and sent three heavily armed frigates that destroyed the castle.
The castle remained in ruins until a MacRae descendant bought the island in 1911 and started rebuilding the castle based on what historical evidence they could find of how earlier versions of the castle were constructed.
The castle has been open to the public since 1955. It’s currently owned by a charitable trust that continues to be managed by current generations of MacRaes.
The castle has outdoor webcams so we can visit vicariously at any time. I’m writing this at about 4pm on Tuesday afternoon, which is about 10pm in Scotland — but they are very far north and we’re near the longest day of the year, so I’m seeing lovely misty twilight images.