Ancient Monuments

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Caisteal Uisdein, tower and associated buildings, Isle of Skye

A Scheduled Monument in Eilean á Chèo, Highland

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Latitude: 57.5385 / 57°32'18"N

Longitude: -6.3787 / 6°22'43"W

OS Eastings: 138057

OS Northings: 858271

OS Grid: NG380582

Mapcode National: GBR B8MS.YXV

Mapcode Global: WGY67.ZSP9

Entry Name: Caisteal Uisdein, tower and associated buildings, Isle of Skye

Scheduled Date: 2 November 1999

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8465

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: dun (with post-prehistoric use)

Location: Snizort

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Eilean á Chèo

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


This monument consists of a simple tower and the remains of associated buildings.

The tower is oriented WNW-ESE and measures roughly 15m by 10m. The entrance is in the middle of the east wall and first floor level, the ground floor having two window slits but no door. The first floor contained the hall with a fireplace in the north wall and windows one window in each of the north, south and east walls. Access to the level above was by a mural stair rising to the south of the entrance passage. Local tradition holds that the castle was never finished, it is therefore possible that the mural stair rose to a second floor rather than a wallwalk.

The castle was built by Uisdein (Hugh) MacDonald in the second half of the sixteenth century. Uisdein was notorious pirate and marauder who was finally captured after the discovery of his plot to kill Donald Gorm, chief of MacDonald, at Caisteal Uisdein.

While there is no record of occupation of Caisteal Uisdein after Uisdein's capture, nearby, to the North of the castle, are the visible remains of three buildings which are probably later than the tower. The closest building, visible only as turf covered footings is on the same rock platform as the tower. Two other buildings lie below the summit and consist of turf topped wall standing up to 1m high.

The area to be scheduled includes the remains of the tower, the three lesser buildings mentioned and an area around them which may contain evidence of the construction and use of the site. The area to be scheduled is defined to the W and S by the high water mark, to the E by a line 10m out from the E wall of the tower and to the N by a line 30m out from the N wall of the tower and by the line of a burn. The area is irregular in shape, measuring at its greatest extent roughly 70m NNW-SSE by 50m, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the well preserved remains of a late 16th-century towerhouse. Unlike many other towers of this date, Caisteal Uisdean was clearly built with defence, rather than display, as an over-riding concern. The existence of a variety of subsidiary and probably later buildings suggests that the site has seen longer occupation than the oral history surrounding the short-lived tower might suggest.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NG35NE 1.


Miket R, and Roberts D L, 1990, The medieval castles of Skye and Lochalsh, Portree.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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