The castle of Spadafora was built at the end of the sixteenth century around a defensive tower by the Spadafora family to control the coasts. The tower was probably enlarged or rebuilt in the early 1500s. Four imposing trapezoidal-shaped corner spurs are surrounded by battlements, in whose interspaces the artillery were placed. In the angular ends of each spur stand the casemates, to protect the soldiers on guard.
Between 1654 and 1670 were carried out renovations that most likely changed the architectural features of the castle with insertion of rooms, doors and windows, iron grates and balconies, and the rebuilding of the ramparts. From the 18th century it was transformed into a noble residence.
Between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the last century it was used as a private residence by the Samonà family, descendants of Princess Alessandra Spadafora Colonna.
After the loss of the Castle by the Samonà family, the building was abandoned and was for years the victim of the negligence of the successive administrations. It is currently owned by the Region. It returned to new life after the restoration of the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage of Messina, and hosts numerous cultural events.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.