History

 

Caisteal Uisdean was built by Hugh MacDonald (also known as Uistean Mac Ghilleaspuig Chlerich) in the late sixteenth century. Hugh was the son of Archibald the Clerk - the MacDonald clan chief - but, when his father died in suspicious circumstances, Hugh was supplanted by his uncle, Donald Gorm Mor of Sleat. Hugh became an outlaw and over the subsequent years became rich from piracy and cattle rustling. He was pardoned in 1589 and given the stewardship of Trotternish and at some point thereafter commenced construction of Caisteal Uisdean.

 

The castle was built on top of a natural buff overlooking the entrance to Loch Snizort Beag. It took the form of a rectangular tower although its original height is unknown and it is possible the structure was never completed. Similar in style to nearby Castle Moil, on which perhaps its design was based, the entrance was on the first floor and led directly into the main hall.

 

Despite his pardon, Hugh sought revenge against his uncle whom he blamed for his father's death and attempted to incite rebellion within the MacDonald clan. His efforts failed to gain traction and he went on the run once more. This time his luck ran out and he was captured on North Uist. Imprisoned in Duntulm Castle, he was fed with salted beef but denied water until he died of dehydration. After his death the castle was abandoned and today survives as a ruin up to first floor level. Hugh's bones were displayed in the local church until 1827.

 

Bibliography

 

Brown, K.M (2000). Noble Society in Scotland: Wealth, Family and Culture from Reformation to Revolution. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

CANMORE (2016). Caisteal Usidean. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

Coventry, M (2008). Castles of the Clans: the Strongholds and Seats of 750 Scottish Families and Clans. RCAHMS, Musselburgh.

Gifford, J (1992). Highland and Islands, The buildings of Scotland series. London.

Lindsay, M (1986). The Castles of Scotland. Constable, Edinburgh.

MacGibbon, D and Ross, T (1892). The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries. Edinburgh.

Macintyre, J (1938). Castles of Skye.

Miers, M (2008). Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Rutland Press.

Miket, R and Roberts, D.L (1990). The medieval castles of Skye and Lochalsh. Portree.

Moncreiffe, I, Pearson, A and Stirling, D (2012). Scotland of Old Clans Map. Harper Collins, Glasgow.

 

What's There?

Caisteal Uisdean consists of the lower levels of a substantial sixteenth century rectangular tower. Also visible are the foundations of a variety of later buildings and, on the path to the caste, Dun Maraig can be seen across the water.

Caisteal Uisdean. The castle was a rectangular Tower House with its entrance on the first floor. It is possible the structure was never completed.

Interior. The interior of the castle is not accessible.

Dun Maraig. This fortification consisted of a substantial curtain wall that enclosed two rectangular buildings. A causeway, now gone, once connected it to the mainland.

Scotland  >  Highlands (Isle of Skye)

CAISTEAL UISDEAN (HUGH'S CASTLE)

Caisteal Uisdean (also known as Hugh’s Castle) was built by Hugh MacDonald who was the son of a deposed clan chief. Hugh had become an outlaw but was pardoned and built the castle around 1589 to serve as his new residence. However, he continued to seek revenge against those who had killed his father and, when he attempted to incite a rebellion, he was murdered.

Getting There

Caisteal Uisdean can be found just under three miles south of Uig. Take the turning signposted to Cuidrach off the A87 onto an unnamed road which has a number of car parking options (one shown below). The walk to the castle is approximately 1.5 miles.

Car Parking Option

IV51 9XL

57.551128N 6.374579W

Dun Maraig (No Access)

No Postcode

57.546135N, 6.385881W

Caisteal Uisdean (Hugh's Castle)

No Postcode

57.538298N 6.378712W

The path to the castle is fairly obvious but ensure you take the left route, towards South Cuidreach, at the fork in the road.