Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra

4.4
#6 of 11 in Historic Sites in Outer Hebrides
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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Kisimul Castle Reviews
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232 reviews
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4.6
TripAdvisor
  • August 15, 2017
    Kisimul Castle- almost last point of our recent trip to Hebrides. Not huge and still under restoration but well worth visiting. Only way to get in is by boat which is included in price. It takes few m...  more »
  • August 11, 2017
    Great trip out on the boat to visit this interesting Castle. My granddaughter did the quiz which was quite difficult but the lady on the till helped her complete it in order for her to get her badge !...  more »
  • August 9, 2017
    Great icon of the island of Barra and only a short boat trip away at a very reasonable price Great views of the castle from the ferry  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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