The so-called Temple of Demeter (the remains of which are located below of the church of San Biagio) can be dated between 480 and 470 BCE. This temple offers an interesting example of distylous building in antis, i.e.without an outer colonnade. It has a simple cella preceded by a pronaos (ante-room) with two columns.
Still preserved from the original structure are the base (30 by 13 m approx and partly visible), the outer cella walls and the wall between the cella and the pronaos. These remaing parts have been incorporated in the medieval church dedicated to St. Biagio. The beautiful water spouts in the shape of lion’s heads from this building can still be seen in the Regional Archaeological Museum of Agrigento in the room dedicated to architectural sculptures.
The Temple of Demeter in the classical period was part of a temenos, a sacred enclosure that included other adjacent structures, such as two small round altars with a central bothros or holy well. Inside, archaeologists found kernoi (ritual vessels linked to the cult of Persephone) and the remains of busts that must have represented Demeter.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.