Situated on a small rocky island in the meeting point of the lochs Alsh, Duich, and Long, stands what is now being referred to as "the most romantic castle in Scotland" - the castle of Eilean Donan.
This gorgeous piece of Scottish architecture with its rustic facade and breath-taking geographical location, the castle seems to have been picked out of a fairy tale book and brought to life. And yet, this castle's majesty lies in the stories behind its construction.
THE ISLAND OF OTTERS
While several ancient myths surround the castle's origins, the most popular one revolves around the so-called King of the Otters (Cu Don or "brown dog" in Gaelic). According to the official Eilean Donan website, the silver-coated king is believed to have been buried on the grounds upon which the castle is now built. As such, Eilean Donan is rumored to be "The Island of Otters" as otters are still seen at the castle to this day.
THE TIME OF THE VIKINGS
The castle's earliest recorded history states that the castle's construction began in the 13th century under the rule of King Alexander II. Due to its strategic location between the three lochs, it was built as the empire's north-most sentinel during the king's campaign against the Vikings.
After the defeat and ultimate expulsion of the Vikings under the rule or Alexander III, the castle was awarded to the king's trusted lieutenant, Calean Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald's son, Kenneth, became the founder of a strong and influential family, the MacKenzies. The MacKenzies and their hereditary bodyguards, the MacRae, continue to reside in and care for the castle to this day.
FALLING TO RUINS
Following some defensive changes, including the addition of cannon mounts and platforms, made over the course of time, the castle was made into the defensive powerhouse it was meant to be. However, during a violent rebellion against the English, the castle doubled as a Spanish stronghold. During this intense naval battle, the castle was reduced to its crumbling foundations.
CASTLE OF DREAMS
After almost 200 years of abandonment, the castle was purchased by the decendants of the MacRae family. They enlisted the services of clansman, Farquhar MacRae to help clean it up. However, before beginning work, it is said that he had a dream about the castle, restored to its most glorious state.
After sixteen years of restoration, the castle was rebuilt into something that closely captured Farquhar's dream. However, according to a report by BBC, architecture historians state that the reconstruction of the castle is more elaborate and romantic than the original castle.
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