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Hebrides News


Kisimul Castle                                VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins


With research revealing that almost half of Brits have never visited a Scottish castle, VisitScotland is encouraging visitors to get castle-bagging in the Outer Hebrides.


The islands are home to a magnificent seven castles, including the unique Kisimul Castle on Barra, also known as ‘Castle in the Sea’ due to its location on a formation of rocks in Castlebay.


The Historic Environment Scotland attraction is the seat of the chief of Clan Macneil and considered the only significant medieval castle to survive in all of the Western Isles.


A YouGov survey found that seven out of ten people stated they would like to stay overnight in a castle while on holiday in Scotland which is good news for Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, built in 1865 for Charles Murray, the 7th Earl of Dunmore, and traditionally used as a hunting lodge, and Lews Castle, which is now an iconic wedding venue and luxurious self-catering holiday destination.


Overlooking Stornoway harbour, Lews Castle was built in the mid 1800’s by Sir James Matheson and has since served as a hospital during WW2, a college and a school.


Other castles in the Western Isles are:


Ardvourlie Castle, Harris - built in 1862 by the Earl of Dunmore as the lodge for the North Harris Estate, the building is privately owned and not open to the public.


Borve Castle, Benbecula - Some ruins of the 14th century tower house and courtyard of the Mackays remain.


Calvay Castle, South Uist – A ruined stronghold with a square tower and two ranges of buildings within a courtyard.


Ormacleit Castle, South Uist – Considered one of the last castles built in Scotland. Now a ruin, the castle was completed in the early 18th century for the Clan Ranald chief, but destroyed by fire in 1715 on the eve of the Battle of Sheriffmuir, in which the clan chief was killed.


Alan MacKenzie, VisitScotland islands manager, said: “Castles are an iconic and integral part of Scotland’s history and culture and, with seven of its own, there is something special about the Outer Hebrides – from with the unique sea-locked Kisimul Castle to Ormacleit Castle, considered to be the last castle built in Scotland.


“Everyone should have the opportunity to experience a Scottish castle in their lifetime, so we would encourage everyone to make it their mission to bag a Scottish castle and where better to start, than the Outer Hebrides.”


Tourists urged to visit Hebridean castles

1 January 2018