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South Uist, Calvay, Castle Calvay

Castle (Medieval)

Site Name South Uist, Calvay, Castle Calvay

Classification Castle (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Calbhaigh

Canmore ID 10130

Site Number NF81NW 1

NGR NF 8175 1811

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish South Uist
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Recording Your Heritage Online

Calvay Castle, date uncertain Ruin of an islet fortification at the mouth of Loch Boisdale, from the roughly mortared stones of which it is possible to define an irregular curtain wall and the foundations of a small tower on the south-west corner. Fragments of the buildings that stood against the inner face are just discernible (there was a two-storey hall on the north side), as are gun slits, and the main entrance to the south. The history of this Outer Hebridean castle of enclosure - South Uist's answer to Kisimul - is shadowy. It is possible that it was built either by the MacRuaries of Garmoran or their successors, the MacNeils of Barra, to whom the Earl of Ross granted a charter of the lands of Boisdale in 142 7. Bonnie Prince Charlie hid here in June 1746, after his sojourn in Glen Corodale.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NF81NW 1 8175 1811.

(NF 8175 1811) Castle Calvay (O.E.) (In Ruins)

OS 6"map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

Castle Calvay is situated on an islet separated only at high tide from Calvay Island, to which it is linked by a causeway. The fragmentary buildings, built aginst and incorporating the curtains, are of rough rubble in shell lime mortar. Slabs of stone are in some places bedded on edge. The average height of the walls in 1924 was 12ft. The date is indeterminate.

RCAHMS 1928.

The castle is generally as described and planned by RCAHMS but the causeway is no longer evident.

Surveyed at 1:10560.

Visited by OS (J T T) 13 May 1965.


Field Visit (4 August 1924)

Castle Calvay.

Castle Calvay is situated at the mouth of Lochboisdale on an islet separated only at high tide from Calvay Island, to which it has been linked by a causeway; nearby is a little natural harbour. The site is a rock and the summit is almost entirely covered by the castle, which consists of an irregularly shaped enclosure of indeterminate date, measuring 51 feet from north to south by 70 feet from east to west within walls now standing to an average height of 12 feet and having a maximum width of 5 feet. The masonry is a rough rubble built in shell lime mortar, and slabs of stone are in some places bedded on edge. (Fig. 154·)

The entrance, which has a bar hole and is 3 feet wide, lies to the south; almost in front of it is a roughly built well. Within the enclosure are the remains of a series of structures built against and incorporating the curtains. While all are fragmentary and obscured by debris, the buildings against the north curtain have suffered less than the other parts and were evidently two storeys in height; at their eastern end a passage runs through to an opening in the curtain, perhaps a side door or postern. The little square structure at the south-west angle of the enclosure may have been a "pit"; contiguous to it is a flue, probably from a latrine.

RCAHMS 1928, visited 4 August 1928.

OS map: South Uist lviii.


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