Falkenberg Castle was founded probably between 895-898 AD, but not mentioned before 1154. In 1294 Aldsassen monastery bought it. In 1428 the monks successfully defend the castle against the Hussite invasion. During the Thirty Years' War in 1648 Hans Christoff von Königsmarck (Swedish-German soldier) conquered the castle and left it in ruins.
After been decayed for centuries, Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg, a German diplomat and ambassador in Moscow, bought the castle as his retirement real estate. Following images from old paintings, he rebuilt the castle from 1936 – 1939. Schulenburg was part of the Operation Valkyrie, the failed assassination of Adolf Hitler. He was executed shortly after in 1944. The Gestapo confiscated the castle in World War II and arrested prisoners from the Flossenbuerg concentration camp. After the war, the Schulenburg family assumed ownership of the property.
Since its grand opening in 2015, visitors are invited to explore the castle’s museum and spend a night in the castle hotel. The castle also features a unique restaurant and a large knight’s hall for events.
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.