The Euryalus Fortress was the key point in the fortifications of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse. It is located on the highest point of the hill of Epipolae.
During the Athenian invasion of Sicily (415-413 BC), the fortress did not yet exist, but the strategic importance of the area was clear; the Athenians initially captured the hill, but their failure to retain it prevented them from effectively besieging the city. The name Euryalus is mentioned by Thucydides in the course of the first Athenian attack on the city.
The fortress was first established by Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse. Construction took place between 402 and 397 BC, with the intention that the fortress would protect the city from siege and attack by the Carthaginians. Various renovations were subsequently undertaken in response to developments in siege weaponry, under Agathocles and Hiero II.
After the Roman conquest of the city in 212 BC by Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the fortress continued to be modified until the Byzantine period when parts of it were torn apart in order to repair the rest in light of Muslim invasion.
On 30 September 2016, an antiquarium was opened on the site, after a long closure resulting from the Santa Lucia earthquake of 1990. This building contains some of the discoveries from the site, including a sword, a helmet, and the missiles from a stone-throwing catapult.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.