Protecting Scotland’s ‘Castle of the Sea’

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Photo:  Kisimul Castle sits on the Isle of Barra, one of Scotland’s most iconic castles is to undergo major conservation, to include archaeological and interpretation work as part of a plan agreed between Historic Scotland and Macneil of Barra.

The castle, which sits surrounded by water on the Isle of Barra is the seat of the Chief of the Clan Macneil and the symbolic home of the Clan.  

 The work, which will see an investment of over £200,000, half of which is coming from funds donated by Clan Macneil members, represents a unique opportunity to conserve and secure the site for current and future generations.  

Archaeological excavations, commissioned by Historic Scotland in 2013, unearthed some interesting items including possible Iron age pottery, flint cores and animal bone.  Now as a significant part of this plan, further work has the potential to discover more about the castle’s history, how it was used and the history of the earlier occupation of the islet on which the castle sits. 

Kisimul has played an important role in the history of the southern Hebrides, and was a significant structural, military and administrative presence at the crossroads of the Norse-Celtic seaways.

Responsibility for management and conservation of the castle was transferred to Historic Scotland in 2001 on a 999 year lease by Ian Roderick Macneil of Barra, for £1 and the annual rent of a bottle of Talisker.