The Marsvinsholm estate was spoken about as Bosöe, Borsöe and Bordsyö in the beginning of the 12th century. By the middle of the 14th century it was owned by members of Ulfeld family. The possession were transferred to Otto Marsvin around 1630, who built the castle 1644-1648 and renamed it after himself. The name is derived from an Old Norse word for porpoise. The castle was in the beginning built on poles in a small lake. It forms a square in 4 floors and the northeast and southwest corners are provided with towers in five floors. 1782-1786 count Erik Ruuth made a thorough renovation. 1856-1857 baron Jules Sjöblad restored the castle.
Through succession and sales the castle has belonged to the families Thott, von Königsmarck, de la Gardie, Sjöblad, Ruuth, Piper, Tornerhielm and Wachtmeister. Count Carl Wachtmeister sold the castle and the remaining land to arl Jules Stjernblad in 1854. The castle was handed down to his daughter, the duchess Ida Eherensvärd. Her children, Rutger, Louise and Madeleine Bennet owned it until 1910 when it was sold to dame Johannes Jahennesen. 1938 it was handed down to his daughter, Anna Margrethe and her husband Iörgen Wedelboe-Larsen. Their son sold 1978 to Bengt Iacobaeus. His son Mr Tomas Iacobaeus is the current owner of Marsvineholm.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.