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 This is supported by historical documents and carbon dating.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: Ruins in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Lynda Stirling (2 months ago)
Ate here for 2 nites takeaway as restaurant was close The food was lovey a little pricey for the portion size but most enjoyable The staff are friendly and mannerly Could be doing with a menu outside so you can make your choice before joining the queue The ice cream is delicious ?
Joshua McCullough (3 months ago)
It has the potential to be a great spot for some photographs and some historical insight. However the path isn't obvious at all, and is not looked after. The information board is very worn and it is hard to read the information displayed. Not very accessible.
David Griffin (3 months ago)
Beautiful spot but it’s difficult to get too. The closest parking is a few hundred meters away and it’s not technically a car park. The path to the castle is unmaintained and got too thick at one point so we couldn’t get to it. Not really sure it’s intended to be reached honestly.
Philip Barrett (4 months ago)
Great scramble across the beach and up the hill rewarded by fantastic views. Lots of photo opportunities!
Andy Lawson (8 months ago)
Not so easy to get to and probably not worth trying. Stay on the path. Pretty cool wee castle tho and will make good photos at the right time of day. Not alot of parking but is an easy walk from the square. Well worth a visit.
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