The Colonne di San Basilio (Columns of St Basil) are an ancient Greek structure, which take their name from the mountain of San Basilio where they are located, in the territory of Lentini.
The summit of the mountain shows trances of ancient settlement from the prehistoric period, with clear traces of the postholes of a hut, probably belonging to the Casteluccio culture.
A little way away is the imposing structure itself, carved in the limestone rock and measuring 18 x 16 metres, with 32 columns designed to support rock slabs. Part of the structure has collapsed, but many of the columns remain standing.
The structure was later reused by the Byzantines, who converted it into a church. Some traces of religious frescoes are even visible on some of the columns, but they are not legible.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.