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Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle is next to the main A87 road that runs to the Isle of Skye, 65 miles northwest of Fort William, 71 miles southwest of Inverness, 9 miles east of the Skye Bridge. The road through Glen Shiel to the Castle is one of the top driving roads in Scotland.

The Castle can be viewed and photographed all day, all year. The Visitor Centre and Castle Tours are open most of the year up to 1800 in summer, 1600 in winter with a fee for the tours. Postcode: IV40 8DX.

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In summer, the sun rises over the hills at about 0800, lighting up the southwest side of the Castle up to about 1200, best time to get photos. Late evening may give good images from the north side. The best photos are also at High Tide. View a large image from about 0800 with a high tide at Eilean Donan Castle.

Eilean Donan Castle History

580 - The Irish Saint, Bishop Donan came to this area of Scotland. A small Monastery may have been built on the Island around that time, named Island of Donan, Eilean Donan.

The Island is situated where three Lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh.

800s - Vikings began taking control of parts of North Scotland and the Western Isles. They also began conducting a number of brutal raids throughout mainland Scotland.

1200s - King Alexander II had the earliest parts of Eilean Donan Castle built on the Island, probably to prevent Vikings from traveling though Glen Shiel to raid the Highlands of Scotland.

This original Castle covered the whole Island.

1262 - King Alexander III of Scotland invaded the Isle of Skye to free the Island from Viking control.

1266 - the Vikings signed a treaty giving control of North Scotland and the Western Isles to Alexander III.

Clan Donald / MacDonald had been close to the Vikings on Skye. They then became the prominent Clan on Skye, and other Western Isles, known as the Lords of the Isles, becoming the most powerful Clan in Scotland, taking little notice of the Kings and feuding with a number of other Clans in the area.

1200s late - Kenneth MacKenzie was awarded Eilean Donan Castle so as to keep peace in the area for the King.

1331 - Randolph, Earl of Moray, Warden of Scotland, sent word he was going to visit Eilean Donan. The McKenzie's had about 50 troublemakers rounded up and executed. They then hung their heads from the Castle to show the Earl they were keeping the area under control.

1362 - The Macrae Clan came to the area, leading to them helping the McKenzie's enforce law and order and run the Castle.

1300s late - Eilean Donan Castle was rebuilt, much smaller than the original, probably so it could be defended with less men.

1493 - the MacDonald's had their lands, estates, and titles taken by James IV of Scotland after they were accused of plotting with the English to overthrow King James. The MacDonald's continued fighting other Clans in the area.

1539 – Eilean Donan was attacked by Donald Gorm MacDonald. Gorm was killed in the battle, leading to his Clan retreating.

1715 - Eilean Donan Castle was used by Jacobite's during the Second Jacobite Rising, an attempt by many Clans to have the Stuart's restored to the throne of Great Britain. The McKenzie's and Macrae's gathered at the Castle before setting off to war.

This Rising ended in failure soon after.

1719 - 300 Spanish soldiers landed here to support the Jacobite's, with the McKenzie's housing them at Eilean Donan. Three Government ships were then used to attack the Castle with cannon, reducing it ruins. The powder magazine in the Castle was then used by Government Forces to cause even more damage to the Castle.

Two weeks later, the Jacobite's met Government Forces about 12 miles east of Eilean Donan, where Government Forces won the Battle of Glen Shiel. The Jacobite Forces were mainly made up from Clan McKenzie, Cameron, MacGregor, Mackinnon, Murry, and Keith.

The Government Forces contained Clans such as: Fraser, Ross, Sutherland, Mackay, and Munro.

1723 - Bernera Barracks were built about 16 miles southwest of the ruined Eilean Donan Castle to house a large number of Government Troops. These Forces were used to control the area and try to prevent any further Jacobite Risings.

1746 - the Battle of Culloden was the final defeat for the Jacobite's, the last Battle on the British mainland.

1911 - John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the Castle so he could have it restored to serve as his family home.

1932 - Eilean Donan Castle was completed, including the Arched Bridge to the Island.

1937 - John MacRae-Gilstrap died.

1948 - the Castle was used in the film Bonnie Prince Charlie starring David Niven.

1955 - the Castle was opened to the public by Mr John MacRae.

1983 - the Conchra trust was formed by the MacRae's to care for the Castle.

1984 - the Castle is used in the film Highlander starring Sean Connery.

1999 - the Castle is used in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough starring Pierce Brosnan.

Today - the Castle is popular for Photos, Paintings, Castle Tours, Weddings, and as a Film Location.

There are 20 Top Castles in Scotland that attract vast numbers of visitors, one of which is Eilean Donan.

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