The oldest part of the Ardre Church is the tower, dating from about 1200. The tower originally belonged to an earlier church building from the 12th century, the nave and choir of which was replaced with the current building circa 1250. The sculptured choir portal originally also belonged to the earlier church.
The interior of the church was heavily remodelled after plans by artist Axel Herman Hägg in 1900-1902, in a neo-Gothic style. The dominating wall paintings are consequently designed by Hägg. A few stained glass windows remain but were complemented by modern replicas during the renovation.
The furnishings of the church are still largely medieval: an altarpiece from the early 14th century, a triumphal cross and baptismal font, both from the middle of the 13th century, and a carved wooden Madonna from circa 1500 are all in their original milieu. The organ is an elaborate Gothic Revival piece, made for the renovation in 1902 and inspired by medieval French organs.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.