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Eilean Donan Castle
Island Castle in Scotland

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Eilean Donan Castle is a medieval castle on the small island of Eilean Donan in Loch Duich in the western Highlands of Scotland. The island is dominated by its famous picturesque castle. It is situated at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, It is connected to the mainland by a footbridge and lies about half a mile from the village of Dornie. In 2001, the island had a population of just one person, but it is the spiritual home of many more since Eilean Donan is the home of the Clan Macrae.

Today, you can explore nearly every part of the castle. The Castle now has its own visitor centre, which includes the Ticket Office, Coffee Shop, Gift Shop and toilets. Car parking is available at no charge. Large parties and groups welcome. There is no disabled or wheelchair access into the castle itself, but there is a computer-based Virtual Tour available for those that are unable to manage the steps.

Slighted in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, Eilean Donan lay in ruins for the best part of 200 years until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and restored the castle to its former glory. After 20 years the castle was re-opened in 1932. The castle is one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland and a popular venue for weddings and film locations.

The plan below represents the ground floor before the restoration at the beginning of the twentieth century.

One of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan is recognised around the world. It is one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands The castle has the distinction of having one of only two left-handed spiral staircases in a castle in Great Britain, allegedly becausethe reigning king at the time of building held his sword with his left hand.





Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle
Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh
Scotland IV40 8DX

Telephone from the UK: 01599 555202
Telephone from the US: 010 44 1599 555202
Telephone from France: 00 44 1599 555202
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)1599 555202

Fax: 01599 555262

Google map showing the location of Eilean Donan Castle


Google map showing Eilean Donan Castle


Although first inhabited around the 6th century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. By the late 13th century it had become a stronghold of the Mackenzies of Kintail (later the Earls of Seaforth). At least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built on the site.

The name Eilean Donan, or island of Donan, is most probably called after the 6th century Irish Saint, Bishop Donan who came to Scotland around 580 AD. There are several churches dedicated to Donan in the area, and it is likely that he formed a small cell, or community on the island during the late 7th century.

The first fortified structure was not built on the island until the early 13th century as a defensive measure, protecting the lands of Kintail against the Vikings who raided, settled and controlled much of the North of Scotland and the Western Isles between 800 and 1266.

From the mid 13th century, this area was part of the " Sea Kingdom" of the Lords of the Isles. In this kingdom the sea was the main highway and the power of clan chiefs was counted by the number of men and galleys or "birlinns" at their disposal. Eilean Donan offered the perfect defensive position.

Over the centuries, the castle itself has expanded and contracted in size. The medieval castle was probably the largest, with towers and a curtain wall that encompassed nearly the entire island. The main keep stood on the island’s highest point.

Around the end of the 14th century the area of the castle was reduced to about a fifth of its original size, and although the reason is unclear, it probably corresponds to the number of men required to defend the structure.

In 1511, the Macraes, as protectors of the Mackenzies, became the hereditary Constables of the Castle.

In 1539 Iain Dubh Matheson, chief of the Clan Matheson, died whilst defending the castle on Eilean Donan island against the Clan MacDonald of Sleat on behalf of Clan Macrae and Clan Mackenzie.

By the 16th century a hornwork was added to the east wall to offer a firing platform for the newly introduced cannon.





Eilean Donan also played a role in the Jacobite risings of the 17th and 18th centuries, which ultimately culminated in the castles destruction…

In 1719 the castle was garrisoned by 46 Spanish soldiers who were supporting the Jacobites. They had established a gunpowder magazine, and were waiting for a delivery of weapons and cannon from Spain.

The English Government caught wind of the intended uprising and sent frigates The Flamborough, The Worcester, and The Enterprise to quell it. The bombardment of the castle lasted three days on 10–13 May 1719, but met with limited success because of the thickness of the castle walls, which in some places are up to 14 feet thick. Finally, Captain Herdman of The Enterprise sent his men ashore and overwhelmed the Spanish defenders.

Following the surrender, the government troops discovered the magazine of 343 barrels of gunpowder which was then used to blow up what had remained from the bombardment. Other Spanish troops were defeated a month later at the Battle of Glen Shiel.

For the best part of 200 years, the ruins of Eilean Donan lay abandoned and open to the elements, until Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911. Along with his Clerk of Works, Farquar Macrae, he dedicated the next 20 years of his life to the reconstruction of Eilean Donan, restoring her to her former glory. The castle was rebuilt according to the surviving ground plan of earlier phases and was formally completed in the July of 1932.

A grey field gun from the Great War,is positioned outside the building by a war memorial and fountain dedicated to the men of the Macrae clan who died in the war.

The castle appears on the cover of Secret Garden's album Dreamcatcher (2000) and the Brandywine Celtic Harp Orchestra's CD, Celtic Journeys (2008).





Film Location For:

Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948)    with David Niven

The Master of Ballantrae (1953)    with Errol Flynn

The New Avengers (1976)    TV

Highlander (1985)    

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1985)    

Mio in the Land of Faraway (1987)    

Loch Ness (1995)    

Oliver's Travels (1995)    TV

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)    

The World Is Not Enough (1999)    

Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000)    

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)    

Made of Honor (2007)    









I want to   a   in      





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