Welcome to Eilean Donan, an iconic Scottish Castle located in the Scottish Highlands, close to Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye.
Eilean Donan (Gaelic for ‘Island of Donan’) is strategically located at the junction of three lochs (lakes), namely Loch Alsh, Loch Duich and Loch Long. Due to its photogenic qualities, the castle features on many postcards and calendars and is,possibly, the most photographed castle in Scotland. In its present form, the castle’s provenance dates to the 13th century, albeit on a much older fortified site. The castle has had a chequered history with a long standing connection with both Clan Mackenzie and Clan MacRae. It was destroyed by British frigates in 1715 but rebuilt by the MacRae family in the early 20th century. The castle is now a popular visitor attraction and opens to the public during the tourist season.
Catswhiskerstours works with guests to design and deliver customised tours. The additional information below is provided to assist guests determine priorities and focus.
Like many of its peers, Eilean Donan Castle was built at a time when roads were virtually non-existent and the main means of transport was by water. This castle is strategically situated at the junction of three sea lochs, namely Loch Long, Loch Duich and Loch Alsh and thereby provided the castle garrison with control over these waterways and the nearby lands of Kintail.
Prior to the 13th century castle there is evidence at the site of a vitrified fort and impression of a human foot sculptured in stone which gives a provenance back to the Iron Age (about 2000 years ago). The island and castle take their name from a seventh century AD Christian missionary named Donan who was martyred on the Isle of Eigg in AD 618.
The first records of a castle on the site date from the mid 13th. Century when ownership was granted to one Colin Mackenzie by King Alexander III at a time when the Norse (Vikings) had a suffered a major defeat and were withdrawing from Scotland. The castle has experienced five major phases, viz:
13th-14th Century Medieval Castle: Covered largest ever area of 3,000 square metres and featured two towers.
15th Century: For reasons which are not clear, the castle area was reduced to only 528 metres. 16th-17th Century: Modest enlargement mainly comprising a hornwork to provide a firing platform for the newly introduced cannons.
18th. Century: The castle became embroiled in the third Jacobite rebellion in which context it was garrisoned by a force of 46 Spanish soldiers. In 1719 the Government sent a force of three frigates to attack the castle two of which bombarded the castle and subsequently (after surrender of the garrison) blew up the remainder.
18th-20th Centuries: The castle lay in ruins following the 1719 destruction.
20th Century: In a construction project costing GBP250,000 (a considerable sum for the time) and lasting from 1913 to 1932 Eilean Donan Castle was rebuilt along the lines of the original and it is this structure which exercises the shutters of thousands of tourist cameras each year. The re-build was a project inspired and managed by Lt. Col, John MacRae-Gilstrap and Farquhar MacRae using the surviving ground plans of earlier phases.
The principal aspects of the castle today are: Courtyard, Billeting Room, Banqueting Hall, Bedrooms and Kitchen Range. The interior has very much a feel of the era of its construction, the 1930s.
The Clan MacRae
Reflecting the castle’s very long association with the MacRaes, the Clan MacRae Society is based at Eilean Donan Castle. At the castle there is a memorial to all those of Clan MacRae who died in the First World War.
The classical romantic architecture combined with the watery backdrop and ever shifting light conditions render Eilean Donan Castle a Mecca for the producers of postcards, calendars and even films. The castle played a prominent role in Highlander starring Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert.
Here is a video clip of Eilean Donan Castle
We can help with a visit to the castle via a range of options including:
For more information and help contact Nigel-
We look forward to hearing from you!