The ironworks in Kimo was founded by Petter Heijke in 1703. Petter Heijke chose the place because there was an enough deep harbour in Oravainen, waterpower and wood for making charcoal. The ore was brought from Utö in the southern Baltic sea and from Herräng mines in Roslagen. In Kimo it was forged into iron-pigs. The iron-pigs were then tranported further up the river to the forges in Kimo where it was refined into iron-bars.
Kimo was acquired by captain Lars Magnus Björkman in 1818. He renewed ironworks strongly and built for example a lighthouse to the Stubben island. Iron manufacturing ended in 1890s and the factory site started textile business. The heyday of textile manufacturing in Oravainen was in 1920s-1930s.
The original ironworks site and buildings are well-preserved. Today the Kimo Ironworks includes three hammersmith´s workshops: the Lower Mill, the Middle Mill and the Upper Mill. The Lower Mill is the centre of the museum exhibiting the the iron manufacturing. The museum and art gallery are open on order or when there are events arranged on the site. There are also a café and restaurant. Several events are arranged in the ironworks area during the summer season.
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.