Scotland Day 11: Eilean Donan Castle

On the morning of June 26 we left Isle of Skye and returned to the mainland of the western Highlands. We only traveled a short distance before reaching Eilean Donan Castle. This is my favorite Scottish Castle! (Many of you are probably saying the same thing.) It is so well known it's an icon and the most photographed castle in Scotland. I think it epitomizes what everyone considers an ideal Scottish castle and the surroundings are so beautiful and romantic.Eilean Donan is Scottish Gaelic for Island of Donan. (Eilean is pronounced ellen.) It is named after St. Donan, a celtic saint martyred in the middle ages. The castle sits on a tiny island in Loch Duich near Loch Long and Loch Alsh, all sea lochs. The village of Dornie is nearby.

The first castle was built in the 13th century for Alexander II as a defence against Vikings. A century later it was held by the Mackenzies of Kintail, later the Earls of Seaforth. In the 16th century the Mackenzies installed the MacRaes as hereditary keepers or Constables of the Castle. In 1719 the castle was occupied by Spanish troops fighting for the Jacobite cause on behalf of the Earl of Seaforth. The castle was captured and demolished. It lay in ruins for 200 years but was then restored between 1912 and 1932 by Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap. This included the building of the bridge. The castle is the home of the Clan MacRae. It is a popular location for filming movies, including Highlander (the first one.)
I was so excited walking up to the castle. For a long time, one of my dreams was to visit it.

We were not allowed to take photographs inside, except through the windows to the outside. This is a lovely view.

The battlements that look out over the loch.
In the banqueting hall I asked one of the guides about the entrance. The place where we entered on the south wall, wouldn't have been the main front entrance centuries ago. An iron gate now blocks this entrance into the banqueting hall from outside. The guide explained that this gate was the original medieval gate which blocked off the well. He even allowed us to operate the gate. It was really neat and wonderful to touch and interact with this piece of history from medieval times. The well here is protected by thick stone walls. This shows how important it was. When you look at the main photo of the castle, the well is inside the shorter heptagonal structure at the front. If you look at the 2nd photo above, it's to the right of the big door.

Over its portcullis is a Gaelic inscription which translates as: As long as there is a MacRae inside There will never be a Fraser outside. This is where we entered.

The steps throughout the castle are extremely narrow. The passages and rooms meander and include many interesting nooks and crannies. Some are only a little bigger than a window seat. We toured the bedrooms upstairs and the kitchens downstairs.

Here is the official website
And HERE, you can take a virtual tour! This is wonderful because it shows 360 degree views of the inside, which I couldn't take photos of, and you can look around the rooms. It also shows the back and sides. This is a fascinating place and I didn't get to spend nearly enough time here. I must go back!


Nita Wick said...

Awesome post and awesome pics as usual. I am so jealous. :) Thanks for sharing your trip with us in such a wonderfully descriptive way.

Lexi said...

Yep, I'm one of those nodding my head as I read your post. I LOVE this place too! Your pics are FABULOUS!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks for visiting, Nita and Lexi! Glad you like the photos.

Anastasia Abboud said...

What a wonderful, beautiful post! Thanks so much, Vonda!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks so much, Anastasia!! :)