Matrera Castle was built in the 9th century by Omar ibn Hafsún to defend Iptuci, the most advanced city of the Cora de Ronda. However, Mount Pajarete was a place of human settlement since Antiquity.
In the 13th century, it was conquered by San Fernando, who rebuilt it. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the XIV century, it returned to Muslim hands, being definitively reconquered by Alfonso XI in 1341. However, being located in the middle of the Moorish Border or Band was besieged by the Muslims of Granada in 1408 and in 1445.
By 2010, only a few walls of the castle remained standing, and the ruins were further damaged by rain in 2013. A restoration project was launched in 2010 and completed in 2015. Parts of the tower were rebuilt with lime plaster similar to samples found on the site, with large, plain blocks defining the original shape of the castle.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.