Svaneholm Castle (Svaneholms slott) was initially erected in the 1530s by the Danish knight and royal advisor Mourids Jepsen Sparre. Original murder-holes in the oldest castle walls are still preserved.
During the Middle Ages the residence was called Skurdorp (Skudrup), which was fortified and situated next to the parish church, where remains still can be seen. During the mid-15th century it was owned by guardsman Henning Meyenstorp (Meinstrup) and through marriage it later came to the possession of the Sparre-family. Approximately 1530 the residence was moved from Skurup to an islet in the Lake Svaneholmssjön, after that it was called Svaneholm. Through inheritance and purchase Svaneholm Castle came to the possession of Prebend Gyllenstierna in 1611.
At the death of his great-grandson Axel Gyllenstierna in 1705, the castle went to the nephew Axel Julius Coyet via testament, but 1723 his aunt Sofie Gyllenstiernagained half of the properties via trial. Her half was 1751 bought by baron Gustaf Julius Coyet. 1782 it was inherited by Coyet's nephew, baron Rutger Maclean — "The reformer of Scanian agriculture". At Maclean's death in 1816, Svaneholm Castle was inherited by his nephew Kjell Christoffer Bennet and his three siblings, 1839 it was sold to chamberlain Carl Johan Hallenborg and belonged to his son and grandchild until 1902 when it was redeemed bycount Carl Augustin Ehrensvärd, married to a Miss Hallenborg.
A year after the death of Ehrensvärd in 1934, Svaneholm Castle, the park, the garden, most of the lake and the surrounding forest was purchased by the Svaneholm Castle Cooperative Society. The castle now houses a museum run by Wemmenhög Hundred's Momuments and Home District Society.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.