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Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra

4.4
#5 of 12 in Historic Sites in Outer Hebrides
Castle Tourist Spot
Kisimul Castle and also known as Kiessimul Castle, is a small medieval castle located on a small island off Castlebay, Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. It gets its name from the Gaelic cìosamul meaning "castle island".HistoryThe earliest documentary record of Kisimul Castle dates from the mid 16th century. Writing in 1549, Dean Munro stated of Barra that "Within the southwest end of this isle, ther enters a salt water loche, verey narrow in the entrey, and round and braide within. Into the middis of the saide loche there is ane ile, upon ane strenthey craige, callit Kiselnin, perteining to M’Kneil of Barray." However, Campbell (1936) points out that Monro has in part confused the nearby Bàgh Beag with Bàgh a' Chaisteil.Kisimul sits on a rocky islet in the bay just off the coast of Barra. As it is completely surrounded by the sea, it can only be reached by boat and is all but impregnable. Kisimul has its own fresh water wells. Legend has it that this has been the stronghold of the MacNeils since the 11th century.Kisimul was abandoned in 1838 when the island was sold, and the castle's condition deteriorated. Some of its stone was used as ballast for fishing vessels, and some even ended up as paving in Glasgow. The remains of the castle, along with most of the island of Barra, were purchased in 1937 by Robert Lister MacNeil, the then chief of Clan MacNeil, who made efforts at restoration.
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(Castlebay is the nearest city to Kisimul Castle)

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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
211 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • You simply cant miss this historic gem if you are coming to Barra. You get a ferry to visit and imagine clan life over the centuries.  more »
  • We caught the little ferry over to the castle, and we were the only passengers. We visited the castle - its not huge but it is very interesting and you get some great views from the battlements. On th...  more »
  • There is a notice at the jetty,at Castlebay, saying wait here. Rather than waiting at the bottom of the jetty we waited at the top and no boat turned up at 14:00 as expected. I then went to the touris...  more »
Google
  • Exciting to go across in the boat, but for £6 there is very little to see and no information provided about anything. You can buy a leaflet for £1 in the shop which tells you less than Wikipedia. It has fantastic potential, but sadly doesn't yet meet it.
  • Fabulous slice of history. Ongoing restoration, but many places open to the public. A must see if going to Barra.
  • Nice unique castle - worth a visit if your passing by.
  • Conserved castle on a tiny island off the coast, the namesake of the town. Very well exhibited and an interesting attraction, still in the process of conservation but a must see if you're on Barra.
  • Barra was voted one of the most beautiful islands in the World ... with views and breathtaking buildings such as this wonderful castle

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