A mythical tale….   Leave a comment

Nobody knows for certain when exactly the first Eilean Donan castle was originally built; all we do know is that the first mention of it in the anals of history was around the 13th century during the reign of Alexander II. It was built as a defence against the marauding Vikings to protect the lands and people of Kintail.

Highlanders love a good yarn, and a far more colourful story is the mythical tale of the castle’s origin arising indirectly from the conflict between a wealthy chief said to be a Matheson, and his son. As an infant, the son had received his first drink from a raven’s skull and this had given him the power to understand the language of birds. One day, his father asked him to explain what the birds were saying and was told that they were talking about how one day his father would be waiting upon his son like a servant.

This so angered his father that the son was turned out of the house to make his way in the world. Eventually he landed on the shores of France only to hear that the French King was greatly annoyed by the chirping of birds around the palace. The boy set off to offer his help in getting rid of them and soon discovered that the cause was a noisy dispute among the birds, which, together with the King, he was able to resolve.

The King was so pleased that he presented the boy with a fully manned ship which took the boy to many distant lands.

After an absence of ten years, the young man returned to Kintail and his ship anchored at Totaig. The sight of such a royal vessel caused a considerable stir in the district and all wondered who the richly dressed wealthy young man might be.

Arriving at his father’s door, no-one recognised him and he was received with much hospitality. His father set him at the table and waited upon him the young stranger himself, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of the birds. The son revealed who he was, proving his identity by a birthmark on his shoulder and his father was reconciled to the boy who he acknowledged as his heir. His son’s abilities and knowledge of the world brought him into the favour of Alexander II who commissioned him to build Eilean Donan and protect his subjects against the Norwegians.


Posted September 4, 2010 by eileandonan in Tales & Stories

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