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The Scottish Castles Association
Preserving the Past for the Future

Eilean Donan Recaptured

FEATURES-Eilean Donan Recaptured

Eilean Donan Castle as it appears today

Stonemasons working to weatherproof the walls of Eilean Donan castle, reduced to ruins during a Jacobite rebellion in 1719, have uncovered a vivid reminder of the building’s demise: 2 iron cannonballs embedded in the masonry, some 30 feet above the ground.

Measuring 7” in diameter, the cannonballs were revealed during a project to replace the protective lime and concrete coating applied to the castle in the 1950s. While similar objects have been recovered from the sea and shore surrounding Eilean Donan, these are the first to be found still stuck in their target.

When the commanding officer realised cannon fire would be ineffective, he ordered the castle to be taken by a landing party

"Three warships were dispatched to deal with the uprising, bombarding the castle with cannon fire", said castle keeper David Win. "Eilean Donan's walls were 14 feet thick in places. When the commanding officer realised cannon fire would be ineffective he ordered the castle to be taken by a landing party. After capturing the castle they fired the gunpowder store to destroy Eilean Donan."

When reconstruction began in 1912, the upstanding remains were incorporated - hence the reason we are still able to discover artifacts like the cannonballs.

Credit: current archaeology issue 280

Date posted: 26 Jul 2013Last updated: 04 Dec 2014

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Comments found: (1)
Comment by: Anthony Dalton on Sat, 6th Sep 2014, 3:43 pmRef id: 29

The ships were the 50 gun Worcester & the sloops Enterprise (40 guns) & Flamborough (24 guns). On 10th May 1719 a Lieutenant went ashore under flag of truce to demand the castle's surrender, but the boat was fired upon. The Enterprise & Flamborough had anchored close under the castle walls & immediately began a bombardment at very short range. The castle fell that evening after 'a great Discharge of our Cannon upon the Castle' - fearing its recapture it was decided to 'blow it up without loss of time'. Any member wishing a full account please email [ maolachy@firenet.uk.net ]

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