Kilravock Castle was originally built around 1460 and has been the seat of the Clan Rose since that time. The castle is a composite of a 15th-century tower house and several later additions. The lands were owned by the Boscoe family and it passed via marriage of Andrew Boscoe to his wife Elizabeth Bissett of the Bissett family in the 12th century, after Bosco's death his widow then deposed the lands via marriage of their daughter Mary Boscoe to Hugh II de Ros of the Rose family in the 13th century.
The keep dates from around 1460, when the then baron of Kilravock was granted a license to build by the Lord of the Isles. This was extended in the 17th century, with the addition of a square stair tower, and the south range. The north and west sides of the quadrangle were added later. Mary, Queen of Scots, was received at the castle in 1562, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart was entertained four days before the battle of Culloden. His enemy, the Duke of Cumberland, visited soon after the battle, and Robert Burns came here in September 1787.
Kilravock Castle has been continuously tenanted by the Roses, a family of Norman origin, who arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror. They settled at Kilravock in 1293, since which date son has succeeded father without the interposition of a collateral heir, an instance of direct descent unique in Scottish history.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.