Eufemio Castle is mentioned in several historical sources, the oldest dating back to the first decades of the 12th century. It was described as an important place for the old town, thanks to its strategic position. In the 13th century, the importance of the Eufemio Castle grew considerably, as it was one of the main ones imperial castles of the reign of Frederick II of Swabia, whose guards guarded him during the battle against Muslims, who resided near the historic Segesta.
In the following centuries, the Eufemio Castle was inhabited by the various feudal lords who took turns at the command of Calatafimi Segesta, up to the 19th century, where it was used as prigione. Eufemio Castle remained in operation until 1868, only to be totally abandoned to itself, causing its state of degradation which, over time, saw the collapse of many of its parts. Today it is partially restored.
The Eufemio Castle would have been equipped with three towers, two still visible today in its remains, while there is no trace of the third, a fate shared also with the walls who would have wrapped it up to improve its defense system. Once you entered the Eufemio Castle, on the left there would have been the prisons, some walls of which have still been left engravings made, in all probability, by the prisoners themselves while serving their penalties. The Eufemio Castle would also have had a upper floor, which would have been used as a residence for the reigning feudal family.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.