• Lilly

Caisteal Maol, on the Shores of Skye

As you cross over the Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to the Isle of Skye, you might notice a very small ruin off to the left on the Kyleakin side. This is Caisteal Maol. It grabbed my eye on my first visit to Skye so I parked to investigate. The tides were working in my favour and low enough for me to skirt around to the ruin. It was a rainy day, and rainy days are great for adventure. As I walked around the inlet, I came upon a ruined boat, its rusty appearance blending in with the natural colors around it. Further along a yellow boat was tied up, near a foot stone carved “Beware the Tides.” The rain was coming down fairly persistently but as usual I was too filled with eager curiosity to care about getting wet. I met a couple at the ruin who were on their way back (I believe they were from Seattle), and we had a nice chat before they left. I stood in the only remaining window of the ruin and stared off into the fog shrouded hills behind, and to the bridge in the distance.

The excerpt below is the text from the information plaque at the ruin:

“During the later Middle Ages the castle was known as “Dunakin.’ As with the place name Kyleakin, this echoes a vestigial memory of the Norwegian king, Haakon, who sailed through the narrow with his fleet in 1263 to defeat at the hands of Alexander III at the Battle of Largs. Following desertation and gradual collapse, the castle assumed its present name."

(Minor interjection by me here: at face value there really wasn’t a winner or loser of the Battle of Largs. It was more of a draw. So to say that Haakon suffered defeat at the Battle isn’t quite representative of the facts of the battle itself. However, the Viking influence over Scotland sharply declined after this, and as the Viking era ended, the era of the Lordship of the Isles developed. So many view it as an ultimate loss for the Vikings.)