Eilean Donan: An Island Castle
A remote medieval castle on an island off the Scottish coast offers a unique tour experience. Eilean Donan- ‘island of Donnan’ – is the name of an island in the western Scottish Highlands. It is not far off the main road to the Isle of Skye. The island is very close to the mainland, connected by a footbridge. The closest village, about half a mile away, is Donnie.
The original castle was built early in the 13th century as a defense against Viking marauders. Over the centuries several Scottish clans claimed the fortress, rebuilding and refurbishing it several times until it was destroyed by the Spanish in 1719. It remained in ruins until a member of the current clan that owns the island, Macrae, restored and opened it to visitors in 1932.
Eilean Donan is one of the most recognized structures in Scotland. It has been seen in many movies since the 1950’s, the most recent of which are Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Made of Honor, both made in 2007.
There are two unique features of the castle. The first is an architectural element, a left-handed staircase – one of only two in Great Britain. Apparently one of the kings residing their was left-handed, and built the staircase so he could brandish his sword in his left hand. The second highlight is a vintage World War I field gun outside the castle. It is a memorial to members of the Macrae clan who died in the war.
Today the castle is open for tours. You can also arrange a stay at a cottage on the grounds.
It is well worth a visit to this medieval stone castle on the edge of a small island in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by deep blue sea, blue sky, and the stark hills of the Highlands.