Medinaceli Castle was built in the 9th century and rebuilt in the 15th century. There aren’t many remains left of this castle which was of great importance during the Middle Ages. According to legends, inside the castle, which is now completely restored, there was an Arabic citadel where Al-Mansur was buried after being defeated and killed in the Battle of Calatañazor in 1002, although, there aren’t any remains of this citadel.
The strategic situation of Medinaceli, in the middle of the Jalón River valley, the natural passageway between Aragon and the Castilian Plateau, turned it into a key battleground between Muslims and Christians. Legend has it that Al-Mansur, the “Invincible” died here and was buried “in the depths of hell”. El Cid took over the city, which was under Muslim domain, and was lucky enough that there was an exceptional chronicler that immortalised him in art form. According to Menéndez Vidal, one of the minstrels of Cantar del Mío Cid was from Medinaceli or from this region.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.