Loch-an-Eilean Castle stands in the loch of that name about 5 km from Aviemore. It has been largely ignored by the academic world.
In 1935 Dr Douglas Simpson did publish an account of the castle but his findings would not find general acceptance today.
He considered the castle to be a multi-period site. The strong tower house with its 6-foot walls together with the north wall he saw as the primary work and dating from the late 15th century. Next in time came the ‘hall’ and last of all the 'lodging'.
The site is chocked with ruins and vegetation but he should, perhaps, have taken a closer look at the unvaulted hall, 28 feet x 14 feet. If this is, in fact, a Hall House it would push the date of the site back to the 13th century, an intriguing possibility.
The history of Loch-an-Eilean Castle is equally sparse. There is a possibility that the island is artificial - a crannog. However, the earliest reference to the castle is in 1527 when James Malcolmson fled ‘to the island of the lake of Rothiemurchus’ to escape a murder only to be pursued and killed by the Mackintoshes.
Loch-an-Eilean Castle - entrance with the hall to the left
The island came into the possession of the Gordons who gave it to the Grants in 1567 who have held it ever since.
In 1680 the castle was 'usefull to the Countrey in time of troubles or wars for the people put their goods and children here and it is easily defended being environed with steep Hills and Craigs on each side'.
Tradition has it that it was attacked by a remnant of the Jacobite forces after the Battle of Cromdale in 1690. If so, this is the last we hear of it and apart from the occasional visits by Ospreys it has remained deserted ever since.
Article by SCA member Brian McGarrigle