Kisimul Castle is a small medieval castle located in the centre of Castlebay on Barra, an island of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Kisimul Castle gets its name from the Gaelic words cìs (tax) and mul (mound) meaning “The place where taxes are paid”.
The earliest documentary record of Kisimul Castle dates from the mid 16th century.
Kisimul sits on a rocky islet in the bay just off the coast of Barra, and as it is completely surrounded by the sea; it can only be reached by boat making the fortification impregnable. Kisimul has its own fresh water wells. Legend has it that this has been the stronghold of the MacNeils since the 11th century.
Kisimul was abandoned in 1838 when the island was sold, and the castle’s condition deteriorated. Some of its stone was used as ballast for fishing vessels, and some even ended up as paving in Glasgow. The remains of the castle, along with most of the island of Barra, were purchased by the chief of Clan MacNeill in 1937, who made efforts at restoration.
In 2001 the castle was leased by the chief of Clan MacNeil to Historic Scotland for 1000 years for the annual sum of £1 and a bottle of whisky.
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