Helorus was an ancient Greek city of Sicily, situated near the east coast. It was probably a colony of Syracuse, of which it appears to have continued always a dependency. The name is first found in Scylax; for, though Thucydides repeatedly mentions the road leading to Helorus from Syracuse, which was that followed by the Athenians in their disastrous retreat, he never speaks of the town itself. It was one of the cities which remained the under the government of Hieron II by the treaty concluded with him by the Romans, in 263 BCE: and, having during the Second Punic War declared in favor of the Carthaginians, was recovered by Marcus Claudius Marcellus in 214 BCE.
Under the Romans it appears to have been dependent on Syracuse, and had perhaps no separate municipal existence, though in a passage of Cicero it appears to be noticed as a civitas. Its name is again mentioned by the orator (Id. v. 34) as a maritime town where the squadron fitted out by Verres was attacked by pirates: but it does not occur in Pliny's list of the towns of Sicily; though he elsewhere mentions it as a castellum on the river of the same name: and Ptolemy speaks of a city of Helorus.
Its ruins were still visible in the days of Fazello; a little to the north of the river Helorus, and about a mile from the sea-coast. The most conspicuous of them were the remains of a theatre, called by the country people Colisseo: but great part of the walls and other buildings could be traced. The extent of them was, however, inconsiderable. These are now said to have disappeared, but there still remains between this site and the sea a curious column or monument, built of large stones, rising on a square pedestal.
This is commonly regarded as a kind of trophy, erected by the Syracusans to commemorate their victory over the Athenians. But there is no foundation for this belief: had it been so designed, it would certainly have been erected on the banks of the river Asinarus, which the Athenians never succeeded in crossing.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.