Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Eilean Donan Castle - Inverness

Eilean Donan
Eilean Donan

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 outbuildings and fortifications were added at later centuries. The keep has a flush parapet, with open rounds and corbelled machiolations.

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. Access to private rooms is above the hall.

Alexander 111 gave the lands to Colin Fitzgerald, son of the Irish Earl of Desmond and Kildare, for his help in defeating King Haakon 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.

Robert the Bruce was sheltered here in 1306

1331 Randolph, Earl of Moray, executed 50 men at Eilean Donan and adorned the castle walls with several 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 frigates battered it into submission with cannon, and it was blown up from within. Although very ruinous, it was completely rebuilt in the 20th century.

Wording taken from The Castles of Scotland Third Edition by Martin Coventry

Added: 17 Apr 2010 Updated: 21 May 2019
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