Garz Slavic fort was an ancient burgwall. The earthworks have an oval shape, are about 200 metres long and 140 metres wide. There is an entrance roughly in the middle of the western side. Towards the lake of Garzer See to the south the ramparts are lower.
The castle was mentioned in 1165 as Borgar Gardz, when there were small-scale skirmishes with Danish warriors in front of the castle. The castle itself does not appear to have come under attack, but gradually fell into ruins afterwards. In 1300, the Prince of Rügen, Vitslav III, built a new castle and a chapel inside the original fort. After his death in 1325, the castle finally fell into disrepair. On the ramparts is now a war memorial to those who fell in the First World War and, in its immediate vicinity, is the Ernst Moritz Arndt Museum, where one can learn more about the history of the place.
The Garz fort is now a protected archaeological site. It ranks, in terms of size and degree of preservation, as one of the most important Slavic strongholds.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.