Morgantina is an archaeological site in east central Sicily. It was inhabited in several periods. According to Strabo Morgantina was founded by a pre-Roman Italian group known as the Morgetes of Rhegium. Dionysius of Halicarnassus wrote that the Morgetes were led by a king named Morges. The earliest historical date associated with Morgantina is 459 BCE, when Ducetius, leader of the indigenous Sicel population of central Sicily, attacked the city and captured it. Morgantina was probably still under Ducetius' control when he was defeated at Nomai by Syracuse in 449 BCE.
No later mention of Morgantina is made until Thucydides lists it as part of the terms of a truce in the war of 427–424 BCE between Syracuse and the Dorian cities of Sicily on one side, and Kamarina, the Khalkidian cities of Sicily, the Sikels, and Athens on the other side. Thucydides says that Syracuse agreed at the Congress of Gela to give Morgantina to Kamarina in return for payment of an indemnity. Kamarina was destroyed in 405 by the Carthaginians. Morgantina therefore must have been independent from at least this date, although it was soon recaptured by Dionysios of Syracuse in 396. Syracuse retained (occasionally more nominal than actual) control of Morgantina until the Second Punic War. In 317, Morgantina received the tyrant Agathocles, then in exile, and offered him help in returning to Syracuse. He was elected praetor at Morgantina, and later dux.
As part of the Syracusan kingdom of Hiero II, Morgantina fell under the hegemony of Rome when Hieron became a Roman vassal in 263. In 214, Morgantina switched its allegiance from Rome to Carthage. Morgantina remained autonomous until 211, when it became the last Sicilian town to be captured by the Romans. It was given as payment by Rome to a group of Spanish mercenaries. In 133, Morgantina was the place where Eunus, the leader of the slave rebellion known as the First Servile War, died. In the Second Servile War, Morgantina was besieged and taken by slaves. The final mention of Morgantina comes again from Strabo, who notes that in his own time, the first century CE, the city had ceased to exist.
A few literary sources describe Morgantina and its economy. Most famous of these are the references to the vitis murgentina, a strain of grape mentioned by Cato, Columella, and Pliny the Elder. These grapes were prized for their wine — Pliny called it 'the very best among all those that come from Sicily' — and had been transplanted from Sicily to mainland Italy by the 2nd century BCE.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.