Archive for the ‘Eilean Donan Castle Images’ Tag

Clan loyalties run deep…………   5 comments

It’s a well known fact that we Scots possess distinctly (some might say, unnaturally) long memories, and that loyalties, and for that matter, emneties can frequently last for generations if not centuries. This is particularly true when it comes to issues surrounding our Clan system, even today.

Clan MacRae has held a number of allegiencies during its long history, including Clan MacKenzie, Clan MacLennan, and Clan Mathieson. One of the lesser known relationships is the association with Clan Fraser which goes back many many years. In actual fact, visitors to the castle may well have observed, above the front door to the castle, a stone carving, written in Gaelic, see picture below.

Now in English, this would translate as  “Whilst there is a MacRae inside, there will never be a Fraser outside”

Well on Sunday, we had a wonderful visit from some Clan Fraser pipers from Canada, who are currently touring Scotland. Resplendent in their 18th century garb, the group made a wonderful sight for the tourists that were here on the day, and I managed to capture a few shots for you to have a look at.








Posted April 5, 2011 by eileandonan in News

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Reconstruction Photographs discovery………..   4 comments

Every so often, I stumble across something completely and totally unexpected at Eilean Donan and today I have a real wee gem of a find to share with you all! An exclusive preview that you can have a look at before ANYONE else!

Tucked away in the back of a dusty drawer in the castle we recently discovered a small blue nondescript cardboard wallet with the words ” LIZARS Developing & Printing Services“. Upon opening, we duly discovered around 60 old photographs from what I believe to be approximately the very late 1920’s and early 30s depicting scenes of the castle’s reconstruction!

Although they have started to fade a little, I’ve had them professionally scanned in order to preserve them, and can now share them with the world. The reconstruction took about 20 years in total, partly due to World War I happening right in the middle of it. When you see some of the construction methods that were used back then, you also get a sense of why the project took so long.

There’s also one or two images of Farquar MacRae, the legendary Clerk of Works of the whole project, who lived on the island in a small hut for much of the construction period, but who sadly died only 6 months before its completion. There’s also a glimpse of Lt Col John MacRae-Gilstrap and his wife Isabella, along with a local shot or two of what is now known as the Loch Duich Hotel. The final 5 photos are from the grand opening day in 1932 when the Lt Col led the Clan MacRae and the local community on a march to the castle.

Anyway, enough from me, here are the photos and I hope you enjoy this little treasure trove!

(If you click once on each image, you’ll get a slightly larger view.)

Posted March 19, 2011 by eileandonan in Historical

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The Best Laid Plans……..   4 comments

On a fairly regular basis I am asked about the building plans of the castle during the reconstruction period between 1912 and 1932. Last week I received an e-mail from Iain Anderson from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) asking for the same thing.

Unfortunately we can find little or no trace of the original building plans that Lt. Col John MacRae-Gilstrap and his Clerk of Works Farquhar MacRae used during the re-building process. I have a strong suspicion that no-one has ever made a conserted effort to track them down, so this winter I’m going to do my Sherlock Holmes impersonation and try and locate them. There are some clues I can follow up, and it would be amazing to finally locate them!

About 4 years ago however I did have a bit of luck when I uncovered, by sheer accident, 6 beautiful watercolours of plans that had been used in the design discussions. They had been rolled up,  forgotten about and had lain gathering dust for nearly 90 years since their conception back in 1918. Considering their neglect they were all in remarkably good condition, and as such I had some conservation work done on them and had them framed. They are now displayed in the Billeting Room of the castle and are currently the only record of plans that have been found to date.

Given how frequently we are asked for copies of them, I took some photographs this morning, in situ, so I could share them with yourselves and RCAHMS.  The photography is a little crude, but at this juncture I’m very reluctant to use any flash in the process, and the lighting conditions in the Billeting Room are not great. I’ll re-do the photography come the winter when I start my search in earnest, but for the time-being they’ll give you a little taster.

Basement Level

The Ground Floor

The First Floor

The two bedroom levels

South-east and South-west elevations

North-west & North-east elevations

Posted August 25, 2010 by eileandonan in Historical

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Up on the roof………   9 comments

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at the Visitor Centre when people are buying admission tickets is “Can we get up onto the roof?”

Unfortunately, we always have to answer in the negative, as access to this part of the castle can only be made via a very small spiral staircase which is really unsuitable for large numbers of people. Then, once you actually get to the top of this staircase, the walkways around the roof are extremely narrow. The prospect of taking people up there would keep about 10 Health & Safety Officers in employment for about a month!

So I thought I’d pop up there today, take a few photos, and try and give you at least some impression of what it’s like. It goes without saying that the views are magical, especially on a clear day, and I’m hoping that at some point in the future we might be able to venture up there with small groups of 8-10 people, but that’s something for the future!

Narrow access on the rooftop walkways.

With a bit of care, it is possible to move around the entire castle roof and enjoy the 360 degree panorama. Facing directly East, you get a view of the bridge and the Visitor Centre.

Facing East

Turning slightly towards the North, you get a view of Dornie village and Dornie Bridge. (I was going to do the North, South, East, West thing, but the North view is of Ben Conchra, which is a bit dull really, and the Westerly view doesn’t translate well into a photo.)

Dornie Village

Moving round the walkway, and facing North Westerly gives you a view straight down Loch Alsh towards Skye and the Cuillins.

Loch Alsh to the Cuillins of Skye

From this point, you have to double back on yourself and move round to the South side of the main Keep, as the route is blocked by a small turret. On the opposite side, you look straight down Loch Duich towards the Five sisters of Kintail.

Looking down Loch Duich

The light was so flat that I couldn’t get a decent shot facing West, so I’ll save that for another day, but instead I took a shot of the sea wall from above and the West Guard Tower, a slightly different perspective to the norm.

Westerly Sea Wall

The West Guard Tower

Now at this point, there’s only one way to go, and that’s UP!  At the western gable end of the main keep, right at the very top of the castle is something called “The Crows Nest” which can only be reached by a rather precarious and exposed climb up some open steps. In years gone by, it would have been a fabulous lookout point for advance warning of any invading Viking longboats,offering clear and all round views, but in 5 years of working at the castle, I have yet to summon the courage to go up there. I think I could handle the upward journey, but the potential for injury on the way back down is considerable if you were to slip on the mossy steps. I WILL get up there eventually!

The Crows Nest

The only permanent resident of the roof-top area is our plastic peregrine falcon. We have a terrible problem with swallows nesting in a variety of locations around the castle, and from time to time they actually manage to get inside, tripping alarms in the process. To keep them at bay, we placed this plastic bird on the roof, and it seems to have done the trick! It’s quite lifelike, and the seagulls and crows aren’t too happy about it, and can often be observed noisily dive-bombing the thing!

Our Swallow defender!

We were starting to get quite busy by this point, so I quickly rattled off a few more shots, some of which you can see below. Hope you enjoy.

The Great Well

The Inner Courtyard

The family apartments

The remains of the North tower

Dornie Bridge

Rooftop Walkway

Posted July 20, 2010 by eileandonan in Miscellaneous

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Behind the walls…….   6 comments

Eilean Donan holds many secrets, some of which are well-known by the public, some of which are not. One of my most favourites is a tiny little room hidden away right in the middle of the walls behind the Banqueting Hall. Unfortunately it is not yet open to the public beacause of its very tight access.  We know of it as “The Lairds Withdrawing Room.”

This is a tiny little space consisting of two wooden seats beside a beautiful little carved fireplace set in a windowed alcove, overlooking Loch Long and Loch Alsh. This room was used by Lt Col John MacRae Gilstrap, primarily to sit and smoke his pipe, away from guests he and his wife might be entertaining in the formal Banqueting Hall. It is without doubt one of  the most peaceful and  tranquil spaces in the entire castle, a hidden gem. The fireplace is exquisitely carved, with the initials of John & Isabella sitting romantically just above the hearth, and dated 1912.

Every time I enter, I can almost sense John’s presence, and can directly relate to why he was so fond of this little haven-like refuge. I can imagine him sitting there with a little peat fire in the grate, puffing silently away on his pipe as he admired the views of the lochs beyond the leaded windows.

The room itself is in need of some restoration work, and will always have to be carefully managed in terms of the number of people that can access it at any one time because of its size, but one day we hope to have it open. In the meantime, here’s a wee sneak preview of one of my favourite spots.

The Lairds With-drawing Room

John & Ella forever.......

Peace & Quiet

Posted July 13, 2010 by eileandonan in Historical

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North, South, East or ………? You decide…….   2 comments

For the vast majority of visitors there are three different positions to view the castle from, each with their own seperate identity,  but what is your own personal favourite?

Those three positions are from the North (from close to Dornie Hall), from the East (essentially face on from the Visitor Centre) and from the South (the headland area at the far end of the overflow car park.) Yes I know you can also view it from the West (at Totaig, on the opposite side of Loch Duich) but the vast majority of our visitors never go over there, and I’ve yet to see a really striking shot that compares with those from the other three positions.

So your three choices are firstly, from the north

from the NORTH

secondly, from the south

from the SOUTH

and finally, from the East.

from the EAST

So what is your own favourite angle?

Oh, and for those that like to take the alternative view, here’s one from the West.

from the WEST

What’s your personal favourite, and why?

Posted July 11, 2010 by eileandonan in Miscellaneous

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The Flemish Caledonian Pipes & Drums   Leave a comment

There is little doubt that for such a small country, Scotland really has a huge international appeal for millions of people. One country where this is definitely true is Belgium. Every year we have the great pleasure to welcome the Flemish Caledonian Pipes and Drums who visit us on their annual pilgrimage to our shores.

Led by the irrepressible Bob Minnekaar, this fabulous group of people visit Eilean Donan every summer, normally just after the World Piping Championships in Glasgow, and always with a box of the finest Belgian Chocolates in hand for the staff. They then entertain visitors with some of the highest quality piping and music that you could ever hope to enjoy.

Always immaculately turned out, they add a huge splash of colour and laughter to the days proceedings, and we look forward to welcoming them back for many years to come.

Posted July 10, 2010 by eileandonan in Music

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