Neu-Thierstein Castle was founded in 1100 and a new building was built around 1294/95. The castle was apparently built by the Saugern-Pfeffingen family as a seat for a Kastvogtei (or a vogt with authority over a religious structure) who ruled over Beinwil Abbey. The first mention of the castle comes from 1321 when it was called Bello. As heirs of the Saugern-Pfeffingen family, in the late 12th Century, the count of Thierstein took over the castle and the Kastvogtei post. By 1400 it was known as Thierstein Castle. The castle was occupied by the Canton of Solothurn in 1445, 1467 and 1499. After the extinction of the counts of Thierstein in 1522, Solothurn acquired the castle and made it the administrative center of the secular bailiwick of Thierstein. In 1798 the castle was sold for demolition. However, in the 19th Century, the destruction of the castle are stopped by private individuals who wanted to repair the ruins. The ruins were surveyed and archeologically investigated in 1985.
The castle ruins are on a small rocky outcrop above the municipality of Büsserach. The ruin consists of a residential tower with ancillary buildings. Traces of a bailey and the old gate house on the south side can still be seen.References:
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.