Achnacarry Castle is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan Cameron. Ewen 'Eoghainn MacAilein' Cameron, XIII Chief of Clan Cameron, built the highly disputed Tor Castle in the early 16th century. Tor Castle would remain the seat of the Camerons of Lochiel until demolished by his great-great-great grandson, Sir Ewen 'Dubh' Cameron, XVII Chief.
Sir Ewen Cameron wanted a 'more convenient' house, which was further removed from the Clan Mackintosh, Clan Campbell and Oliver Cromwell's garrison at Inverlochy Castle. He built Achnacarry Castle in around 1655 in a strategic position on the isthmus between Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig. With Sir Ewen's death in the early 18th century his son John Cameron became Clan Chief, soon after which his son, Donald would assume Achnacarry when Lord Lochiel (as his father was known) fled into exile in Flanders after the first Jacobite Uprising.
With the Jacobite army's defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 the clans retreated into the Scottish Highlands, with Donald taking the lead in re-grouping them. After this last attempt at resistance failed, he and his men took to the mountains. On May 28, 1746, Donald watched as men from Bligh's Regiment under the command of Lt-Col Edward Cornwallis and an Independent Company of Munros, commanded by George Munro, 1st of Culcairn, burned Achnacarry to the ground. Many valued relics and personal possessions were relocated beforehand, but the great fir-planked 'Old' Achnacarry was left in ashes.
In 1802 Achnacarry, which had spent the last fifty or so years in ruin, was rebuilt under Donald Cameron, XXII Chief of Clan Cameron as a Scottish baronial style home, although this 'New Achnacarry' is still referred to as a castle. His wife Anne née Abercromby engaged James Gillespie as architect.
The current building and the surrounding estate gained fame as the Commando Training Depot for the Allied Forces in the World War II from March 1942 to 1945. British Commandos, United States Army Rangers and commandos from France, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium trained there. Each training course culminated in an 'opposed landing' exercise around the area of nearby Bunarkaig on Loch Lochy As live ammunition was used, there were some casualties whilst training at Achnacarry. According to the Daily Telegraph, some 25,000 commandos completed training at the centre during the four years it was in use. The castle also suffered some damage due to fire. Several military associations still sponsor a Commando march either annually or from time to time. Generally it is a timed seven mile march, in full battle gear, backpack and combat boots, from Spean Bridge (site of the striking Commando Memorial) to Achnacarry.
The Clan Cameron Museum is located in a cottage on the castle's grounds. Displays include the clan's legends, chiefs, slogans, history, clan lands in Lochaber, and notable clansmen. Other exhibits include the castle and estate's history, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.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.