Caisteal Maol (Castle Moil) was an ancient seat of the Mackinnon clan. It was a fortress commanding the strait of Kyle Akin between Skye and the mainland, through which all ships had to pass or else attempt the stormy passage of The Minch. The present building dates back to the 15th century, but is traditionally reputed to be of much earlier origin.

According to that tradition, Alpín mac Echdach"s great-grandson Findanus, the 4th MacKinnon chief, brought Dunakin into the clan around the year 900 by marrying a Norse princess nicknamed "Saucy Mary". Findanus and his bride ran a heavy chain across the sound and levied a toll on all shipping vessels.

Whatever the veracity of the castle"s traditional history, there is good reason for supposing the existence of a connection of some kind with Norway. King Haakon IV is thought to have assembled his fleet of longships there before the Battle of Largs in 1263 (hence the name Kyleakin - Haakon"s kyle). Haakon"s defeat at Largs effectively ended Norse domination of the Scottish islands. Medieval and early modern documents also refer to the castle itself as Dunakin, which is again strongly suggestive of a Norse connection.

The present structure is of late 15th or early 16th century construction. This is supported by historical documents and carbon dating. In 1513, a meeting of chiefs was held here and they agreed to support Donald MacDonald as Lord of the Isles. The last occupant of the castle was Neill MacKinnon, nephew of the 26th chief of the clan (c. 1601).

The castle is a simple rectangular keep of three stories. The unexplored basement level is filled with rubble and other debris and is believed to have contained the kitchen. The visitor today enters on the main level where the public dining space would have been. Stairs would have led up to the private apartments above.



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Founded: 15th century
Category: Miscellaneous historic sites in United Kingdom

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Sarah Takahashi (2 years ago)
Caisteal Maol (Kyleakin Castle) is a ruined castle that overlooks the strait of Kyle Akin between Skye and the mainland dating back to the 1400’s, though the site has a much longer history. The castle is also known as Dun Akyn, Dunakin Castle, Kyleakin Castle, and means “bare castle”. According to history, Clann Chief Findanus of Clann MacKinnon, who was the Great-Grandson of Pictish King Alpín mac Echdach of the MacAlpin dynasty, occupied this site in the 900’s, before the site was reused to build Caisteal Maol. Dunakin Castle was the home of Findanus and his Norse Princess known as “saucy Mary”. The last occupant of Caisteal Maol was Neill MacKinnon around 1601, of Clann MacKinnon. Whilst the castle tower has been left to ruin, it has become a well known landmark and truly adds to the gorgeous landscape no matter the time of day or weather. Even if you don’t go to the castle itself you can get a gorgeous landscape photo just across from the castle on the small path. If you are walking to the castle wear good footwear as the ground is very wet and boggy. The proper short path to the castle is accessible during low tide, but if the tide is in and you’re determined to visit then you need to walk around the boggy marshland which can be arduous, but worth it for the gorgeous view.
He Me (2 years ago)
i was lucky to be there while the tide was still low. the little climbing was totally worth it. not only is the way quite interesting and feels as if your walking a secret path, but also is the view from the top absolutely stunning.
Eric J (2 years ago)
Beautiful and serene location. We saw a few people on the trail but the site was deserted. Trail to base of cliff is easy but gets steep if you want to go up to the ruin but worth the extra effort.
Giacomo Pieri (2 years ago)
Was just next to our rented house (Hillside on booking, I suggest it: big and fully equipped). Was an easy fun walk with the kids the first day we arrived in the Island
Chris-Manawydan Tully (2 years ago)
To catch the light of the rising sun in such an atmospheric setting was quite simply a blessing. Tradition relates that the castle was built by a Norwegian princess known as Saucy Mary', wife of a Mackinnon chief.Her income was said to have derived from tolls levied on ships sailing through the narrows of Kyle Akin.
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