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Field Visit

Date 25 June 1921

Event ID 1105442

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


Caisteal Maol.

Situated less than ½ a mile due east of Kyleakin, and on the western shore of Loch Akin, Castle Maol, a stronghold of the Mackinnons of Skye, occupies the summit of a rocky promontory about 50 feet above sea-level. (Fig. 290.) The north and west sides of the height fall steeply to the water's edge, while the south and east sides drop precipitously over the rocks to a low-lying neck which isolates it from the mainland. The approach from all directions is difficult, but a pathway suggests itself as coming up the easiest natural slope at the north-west corner from the sea and seems to be governed by a cleft in the rock about 5 feet wide and 25 feet away from the castle.

The structure appears to be of 15th-century date and is rectangular on plan, measuring 46 feet 6 inches by 34 feet 8 inches externally with its major axis lying almost north-east and south-west. Only the northern and southern corners and the south-eastern wall remain, being 8 to 9 feet thick. They reach a height of 35 to 40 feet outside and have contained three floors, with possibly a fourth within the roof.

Debris completely fills the basement, but a corbel, projecting from the south wall at a level of 3 feet below the step of the first floor window, indicates a bearer support for the floor. Evidently there have been no vaulted ceilings.

The walls are of basalt rubble and are faced externally and internally with squared rubble built to courses of varying heights. Many of the facing stones are equal in breadth and height and many polygonal in form. The lime is made from coral. At base of the south wall there is a batter, which varies from 1 foot 2 inches to 8 feet on the splayed face, according to the irregular contour of the rock. No windows appear in the basement.

On the first floor, at the eastern end of the south wall, a window 2 feet by 2 feet is formed with square rybats. It has double sconsions, arched and opening to a width of 6 feet 9 inches in the interior. The rear arch is composed of thin stones on edge with a wedge-shaped keystone. Opposite on the north wall there seems to have been a similar window. No trace of door or stairway or other voids is seen.

A row of joist holes shows the second floor to have been about 10 feet higher than the first, and there is indication of a window over the one on this floor. Approximately another 10 feet above is a ledge, suggesting the third floor level, and the wall extends to a height of 4 or 5 feet above this.


Dean Monro (1549) mentions ‘the castill of Dunnakyne, pertaining to Mackynnoun’, which is clearly this place. It is marked on Blaeu's (i.e. Pont's) map under this name. In 1616 and 1627 Lauchlan Mackinnon of ‘Strathordill’ had charters of these lands as a barony with the privilege of a ferryboat on the water of Kyleakin (1).

RCAHMS 1928, visited 25 June 1921.

OS map: Skye xli.

(1) R.M.S., s.a., Nos. 1514, 1183.

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