Scottish Castles Photo Library
- Dunvegan Castle, Highland

Dunvegan Castle

Built on a rocky promontory, this huge 14th century keep, 15th century tower and a hall built in the 17th century, has been continuously occupied by the chiefs of the clan MacLeod since at least 1270 (longer than any other family castle in Scotland). It appears that the first Leod obtained the castle when he married the local Norse Seneschall (Sheriff) in the 13th century.

The castle is situated on an upstanding mass of basalt rock, roughly 30 feet high above the shores of Loch Dunvegan. Originally the sea surrounded it but after centuries of natural deposits of silt, the sea has receded from one side of the Castle.

In the tower house is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, said to have been given to an early chief by his fairy wife. Whenever it is unfurled it is supposed to give victory to the Clan MacLeod. It certainly seemed to work at the battles of Glendale in 1490 and Trumpan in 1580 (after the MacDonalds had massacred many MacLeods in the church there). Nowadays it is a frail relic.

The castle has some interesting memorabilia of Bonnie Prince Charlie when he came "over the sea to Skye" and Dr Samuel Johnson reported that he had spent a wet week at Dunvegan as the guest of the 23rd chief and slept in the Fairy Tower. Sir Walter Scott followed in his footsteps, some time later.

Dunvegan was first opened to visitors in 1933. Since then, the castle is consistently ranked as one of Scotland's premier visitor attractions.

See also Places to Visit - Dunvegan Castle for more information and illustrations.

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