Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

Eilean Donan Castle was my hands-down favorite castle throughout Scotland.  Picturesque beyond description, the castle is on a small tidal island located where three lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh, in the western Highlands of Scotland.  The footbridge isn’t original architecture, but was constructed early in the 20th Century to connect the castle to the mainland.  Read more about the architecture, below.

 

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The Grand Entrance (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

The castle, founded in the 13th century, is named after Donnan of Eigg, a Celtic saint, martyred in 617.  Eilean Donan, means simply “island of Donnán.” Donnán is said to have established a church on the island, though no trace of this remains.

 

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Eilean Donan Portcullis (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

The castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae. In the early eighteenth century the Mackenzies’ involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle’s destruction by government ships. (Wikipedia)

 

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Inside Castle Walls (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

After lying in ruins for about 200 years, Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory.  The castle was rebuilt according to the surviving ground plan of earlier phases.  After 20 years of toil and labor the castle was re-opened in 1932.

 

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View from the Top (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

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Lush Countryside and Loch (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

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Alex and Shonna, Castle Docents (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

I’ve never been more thoroughly entertained nor happily educated about Scottish lore, dress, warring, and All Things Eilean Donan Castle than I had on this day.  We shuffled into the grand entrance hall, where Alex entertained us with his witty monologue of how one enters castles, WHO can enter castles back in the day, castle secrets, castle defenses and a lot about the people who inhabited this place.  Once Alex gave us our leave we traveled upstairs to the dining hall where Shonna (A MacLeod, by the way) educated us as to the way of Scottish lassies and why they dressed as they did.  She also treated us to behind-the-scenes lore of castle life and named people in portraits, and explained about the decor.  These two people were wonderful additions to the castle tour!

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Low Tide (C) by Debi Bradford

As we left I turned to see this incredible view.  Sun lowering, mist rising, the grasses an impossible shade of green.  I did not want to leave this place.

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