Billnäs ironworks was founded in 1641 by Carl Billsten. It faced many difficulties during 17th and 18th century. Local peasants destroyed the ironworks already in 1659 because of too heavy taxation. During the Great Wrath Russians occupied and destroyed it again in the 18th century.
Billnäs Ironworks moved to Hisinger family's possession in 1723. Bar hammer workshops with forges and waterwheels, and coal rooms were built to both sides of the rapids in Billnäs Ironworks. Johan Hisinger was especially active in building and developing the Ironworks’ operations. Billnäs manufactured many kind of forge products until 1920, when it was incorporated into Fiskars Corporation (the another ironworks site nearby).
An industrial business ended in Billnäs in the end of the 20th century. Today it’s moved to the use of service industry. Various public events, concerts and exhibitions among others, are organized in the Billnäs Ironworks. In the long run, hotel- and restaurant operations are planned to the area as well as a full renovation of the valuable real estates. The ironworks area is today a well-preserved national heritage. The most valuable building is the great forge from the 17th century.
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.