Before the arrival of the Teutonic Knights, Koknese was the site of a wooden hill fort inhabited by the Balts. In 1209 Bishop Albert of Riga ordered the construction of a stone castle at the site, naming it Kokenhusen. For the first 50 years of its existence, Koknese was solely used as a defensive fort, but by 1277, Koknese had enough population to receive city rights. Koknese also became a member of the Hanseatic League thanks to its strategic location on the Daugava trade route.
The castle was heavily contested between Polish, Swedish and Russian forces in the 16th and 17th centuries. It changed hands many times, while the native inhabitants endured periodic slaughter, capture, and famine. In 1701, during the Great Northern War, Koknese was finally blown up by retreating forces to avoid the strategic castle falling into advancing Russian hands. The castle was never rebuilt and fell to ruin.
In 1900, a park was established around the castle ruins, and Koknese became a popular summer resort. The area was known for its scenic waterfalls, cliffs, and look-outs. In 1965, the Soviet government built Pļaviņas Hydro Power Plant in the town of Aizkraukle. The reservoir flooded the entire length of the Daugava to Pļaviņas. Koknese Castle, once sitting atop a high bluff, was placed at the river's edge, while the scenic Daugava valley was submerged.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.