Medieval castles in Aosta Valley

Chenal Castle

Chenal Castle was built probably in the 13th century and had a rectangular floor plan. It belonged to the lords of Montjovet and only later became property of the Challant family, following the marriage between Ebalo the Great and Alexie of Chenal: in this way the two houses could control the passages along the road between Chenal and the Montjovet castle. The castle is nowdays in ruins.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Montjovet, Italy

Champorcher Tower

As the Bard Fortress, Champorcher Castle also belonged to the powerful Lords of Bard, until the fratricidal war between William and Hugo in 1212. Little is known of this early building: we know that it was burned down by order of Hugo of Bard, which might suggest that it was constructed mostly of wood, like many buildings in the late Middle Ages. It was probably reconstructed in the same century, and definitely before 127 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Champorcher, Italy

Saint Germain Castle

Saint Germain castle in Montjovet played an important part in the history of Val d’Aosta. Few traces remain of its original structure and its construction date is not known for certain. At the end of the 13th century, the Savoy became the owners, replacing the Montjovet family. As already happened in Bard, in this case too, the pretext was provided by the abuse of power that Feidino Montjovet acted on villagers and wa ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Montjovet, Italy

La Tour de Villa Castle

Originally, La Tour de Villa castle was comprised almost entirely of the central tower. The restoration works did not re-build the western part and the northern part, leaving instead a beautiful court yard with views over the plain. Today, the complex is made up of two well-distinct parts: one part is the 12th century tower and the other inhabited part is a semi-circular structure which dates back to the 15th century. T ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gressan, Italy

Arnad Upper Castle

The upper castle of Arnad is mentioned first time in a papal letter in 1207, but there is no information about its origins or first owners. It was probably built by Saverio di Arnad in the late 12th or early 13th century. The next owners, Vallaise family, lived in the castle throughout the 14th century. Due to the inadequacy of the structure and the lost military function, the castle was abandoned in the 15th century. T ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Arnad, Italy

Nus Castle

The Nus castle stands above the same name village on a rocky projection, which dominates the entrance to the valley of Saint-Barthélemy. According to available documentation, the building can be traced at least as far back as the end of the 13th century, although the quadrangular turret, which collapsed at the start of the 20th century, and which stood in the eastern sector of the castle, can be compared to the towers e ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nus, Italy

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Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.