Eilean Donan Castle
The McRaes became constables, or keepers, of a McKenzie castle called Eilean
Donan ('Isle of St. Donan'), located on Loch Duich. The first such constable
was Christopher, appointed in 1511. There are many stirring tales about
the clan's defence of the castle, their rallying point for centuries. The
castle was built about 1230 by a chieftain named Alexander II on the ruins
of an earlier Pictish fort, and served as a strong defence against Norse
and Danish marauders as well as against other clans. Partly because of the
work of the clan in defending it, they were granted land at Inverinate in
1557 which they retained for two centuries.
In 1719 the English blew up the castle using gunpowder because it was being
used as a staging point for landing Spanish troops and supplies during the
Jacobite Rebellion. The castle remained a picturesque ruin for two hundred
years until it was bought in 1913 by Lt. Colonel John McRae-Gilstrap, who
with the help of Farquhar McRae of Avernish, began the work of restoration.
It was finally completed in 1932 and opened to the public.
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