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The gorgeous Castle of Eilean Donan- the most photographed monument in Scotland

Ian Harvey

The most photographed castle in the world sits on a small island at the meeting point of three lochs in the Highlands of Scotland.

Eilean Donan is about a half mile from Dornie and is in one of the the Kintail National Scenic Areas.

 Eliean Donan Castle Photo Credit

Eliean Donan Castle Photo Credit

Pictures of the castle of Eilean Donan can be found just about everywhere.

Aerial view of Eilean Donan Photo Credit

Aerial view of Eilean Donan Photo Credit

T-shirts, posters, cups, bags, blankets, postcards, and plates are just a few of the items on which photos of the beautiful castle can be found.

A small resin replica of the castle can be purchased online for about £35.

Eilean Donan Castle in 2012. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Castle in 2012. Photo Credit

It is possible to get married there, host a party, film a movie, make a music video or just go for a visit and stay in the Holiday Cottage on the grounds.

Guest at the cottage can even bring their dog as long as it is small and “well-behaved”.

As of the summer of 2016, new apartments can also be rented to house the whole wedding party or family while visiting the castle.

One can shop at the gift store and find countless items embellished with a picture of the castle as well as Scottish Tartan plaid.

Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highland, UK. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highland, UK. Photo Credit

Even the flags that have been flown over the castle can be purchased.

There is even a web cam on the castle’s web site, www.eileandonancastle.com, so that anyone around the world can be included in the festivities.

Eilean Donan Castle September 2013. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Castle September 2013. Photo Credit

Hollywood has taken full advantage of the picturesque beauty of the site.

Some of the movies filmed there include Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948), The Master of Ballantrea (1953), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), The New Avengers (1976), Highlander (1986), Loch Ness (1996), and James Bond – The World is Not Enough (1999).

The castle was built in the 1200s under the rule of Scottish king Alexander II.  Legend says a member of the Matheson Clan who was able to communicate with birds commissioned the castle. As a reward for his many successful conquests, Alexander granted his request for a castle to be built to watch over and defend the Matheson lands.

Eilean Donan Castle. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Castle. Photo Credit

Over the years the bounds of the castle grew from a small 13th centure fortress to expand to cover most of the island by the 15th and 16th centuries, when the wall was also reduced.

Clan wars, a common occurrence in early Scottish history, caused the castle to change hands.

Eilean Donan In torrential November rain. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan In torrential November rain. Photo Credit

The Mackenzie clan was an early possessor during the 1500s as well as the MacRae clan, allies to the Mackenzies.

 

In the English Civil War between Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads and King Charles I’s  Cavaliers, Cromwell’s military governor General Monck led his troops though Kintall to quell the Royalists.

By the end of the 1600s, William of Orange was on the English throne.

The inhabitants of the Highlands rejected the new king and his Protestant rule, preferring the reign of the Stuart Kings and Catholicism.

Eilean Donan Reconstructed from an old ruin but still a beautiful feature of Loch Duich Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Reconstructed from an old ruin but still a beautiful feature of Loch Duich Photo Credit

 

Eilean Donan. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan. Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Photo Credit

Eilean Donan Photo Credit

 

Looking down the bridge to the castle Photo Credit

Looking down the bridge to the castle Photo Credit

 

Panorama of the castle from the south Photo Credit

Panorama of the castle from the south Photo Credit

The castle was eventually destroyed during the Jacobite Risings. The Jacobites were so named due to their loyalty to King James the VII and the Latin Jacobus which is the original name for James. The Jacobites staged uprisings in 1715 and 1745 but failed in both attempts.

In 1719 the enlistment of the Spanish by the Jacobites filled the castle with Spanish soldiers. The Royal Navy bombarded the castle for several days until they were able to capture the rebels.

Once the castle had been emptied the bombardment continued until twenty-seven barrels of gunpowder had destroyed the fortress.

In 1919, a descendant of the MacRae clan, Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island and began restoration work on the castle.

The castle, seen from the west. Photo Credit

The castle, seen from the west. Photo Credit

 

View from inside the castle grounds Photo Credit

View from inside the castle grounds Photo Credit

The castle Photo Credit

The castle Photo Credit

 

Macrae-Gilstrap had a bridge built between the small island and the mainland for easier access to the castle and had a memorial plaque installed honoring his family members who had fought in World War I.

Here is another castle story from us: Kilkenny Castle: Could have been yours for $61

The castle restoration was completed about 1932 and in 1955 it was opened to the public by MacRae-Gilstrap’s grandson, John MacRae who established the Conchra Charitable Trust in 1983 to maintain the castle.

Since then, the castle has become one of the most popular tourist sites in Scotland.