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Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra

(190+ reviews on the web)
Castle
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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • I have mixed feelings about this. It looks fantastic from the outside and the history around it is fascinating. However once you go over to it, it is rather disappointing, in a bad state of repair and...  more »
  • Loved the very short trip from Castlebay to castle. Loved the little courtyard-very compact. Lucky that when we were there large sailing ship was leaving bay to allow ferry into port. At the little vi...  more »
  • Well worth visiting. It is an interesting castle. You get to the castle on a small ferry - the journey takes only about 5 minutes - probably less. It is in a beautiful spot in the bay and there are lo...  more »
Google
  • 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.
  • I did the survey of this castle in 1965 with the OS and moved it 12 feet to the west. We were a team from the OS office in Perth doing 12:50 and 25:00 inch updates on the old 1895 surveys. The team of 2 (sometimes 5 ) were based in Castelbay and Northbay for two summer seasons 1965/66. Now 70, I look back on my time in the Hebrides as some of the best of my life. Such a pristine place, awesome, magnificent and almost totally untouched by the outside world. No electricity, just Tilly lamps, the place was a wonder. Angus Macaulay was the one and only policeman, who kept a paternal watch on the island/s. We also surveyed Mingulay, Barra Head and Vatersy. The first two flown in by Bell helicopter, Vatersay by Land Rover, ferried across from Barra on a 2 boat raft. Accommodation on Vatersay was in the school house attic, hosted by a well remembered head teacher , Elly MacPherson. One teacher, 14 pupils, 6 grades. Incredible I've traveled the world extensively since my time on Barra, more than 200 countries,, but I have never found such a more beautiful or friendly location. You will always be in my mind. Thank you JM
  • Wah
  • Travel the road around the bay keeping the castle in view and you will see a giant standing stone hidden from view.thank you goooglo.