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Accommodation in the Highlands
Moray Council

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands

Location: Eilean Donan, Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh, IV40 8DX (map and directions)

Eilean Donan Castle is a majestic, yet small, structure set in a picturesque landscape on the tiny island of Eilean Donan near the small village of Dornie, en route to the Isle of Skye. The island sits in Loch Duich, which meets Loch Long and Loch Alsh, and is connected to the mainland by a footbridge. Throughout the centuries, Eilean Donan has been re-built and renovated on at least four occasions since its original construction.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands copyright Sonja Pieper
Eilean Donan Castle © Sonja Pieper

History of Eilean Donan Castle

Though the island is believed to have been inhabited in the 6th century, the first fortified structure was built here in the 13th century to stand guard over the lands of Kintail. This structure was built in 1220 for Alexander II as a defence against the Vikings and by the late 13th had become a stronghold of the Mackenzies of Kintail. It was not until 1511 that the Macraes, protectors of the Mackenzies, became the hereditary Constables of the Castle.

Spanish troops occupied the castle in 1719 in an attempt to start a Jacobite Rising, but the castle was recaptured by the Royal Navy and was demolished in the process. Eilean Donan then lay in ruins for 200 years afterward until, in 1911, Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island and painstakingly restored it during the next twenty years. Eilean Donan was then re-opened in 1932. It is this final version of the castle that visitors today see.

A visit to Eilean Donan Castle begins with a journey across the footbridge and onto the small island and into the south west wing, home to an introductory exhibit about the castle. Visitors can then explore the three stories within the main keep, a Billeting Room, the Great Hall, and a number of bedrooms before heading outside through passageways for views out onto the Lochs.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish Highlands copyright The Moralist
Eilean Donan Castle © The Moralist

The castle has featured in films such as The World is Not Enough, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Made of Honour, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as having appeared in many television programmes.

Map and directions

Eilean Donan is open to the public daily from March to November from 10am-6pm.

View Eilean Donan Castle in a larger map

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