Sunday, 10 November 2013

Conservation work at Kisimul Castle

From the Historic Scotland and RCAMHS joint newsletter:

A commitment to Kisimul

One of Scotland's most iconic castles is to undergo major conservation, archaeological and interpretation work as part of a plan agreed between Historic Scotland and Macneil of Barra.

Kisimul Castle of the Isle of Barra is regarded as the most significant medieval castle in the Western Isles. The work, which will see an investment of over £200,000, half of which is coming from funds donated by Clan Macneil members, represents a unique opportunity to conserve and secure the site for current and future generations. It will also result in an improved visitor experience and ensure that the fabric and structure of the castle are conserved for years to come. Gaelic will be a key consideration in the interpretation that will be developed for the site.

As part of the plan, three key projects will be completed by the end of 2015 - re-roofing the flat roof over the hall, reinforcing concrete structures and overhauling the chapel roof and incorporating a new timber walkway. Upgrading works to slipways at the Castle and on the shore will follow at a later date. Historic Scotland have made special efforts to record local knowledge of the source of materials used to build the Castle. In this way, it should be easier to more accurately conserve the fabric of Kisimul.

Rory Macneil, the 47th Clan Chief said, 'Agreement on the conservation plan is a milestone in the long and varied history of Kisimul Castle. It opens the door to completion of the immediate projects covered by the plan and long term conservation of this unique structure. This plan will help ensure that Kisimul continues to play a central, symbolic and economic role in Barra and Vatersay, and to serve as an inspiration to MacNeils around the world.'

Ian Walford, Chief Executive of Historic Scotland said, 'Kisimul Castle is a true icon of the Western Isles, representing Barra's rich, colourful and sometimes turbulent history. There are few castles of this nature in Scotland, sitting proud in the island's main harbour and for most visitors it is their first experience of Barra's historic environment. We are delighted to be launching this plan. Working in partnership with Macneil of Barra, this plan will conserve and enhance a truly magical site in a spectacular Scottish setting for future generations to come.'

(The full newsletter is available at


My latest book, Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, is now available from (print) and (ebook), whilst Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet is available at My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs, starts Nov 13th - see

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