Eilean Donan Castle is situated 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.
See also a large Click On
Map for Top Attractions in the area.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
There are 20 Top Castles in
Scotland that attract vast numbers of
visitors, one of which is Eilean Donan.