MHG5215 - Duntulm Castle


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Type and Period (1)

  • CASTLE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD to 1900 AD)

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Full Description

NG47SW 1 4098 7434.

NG 4098 7434 Duntulm Castle (NR) (Ruins of) Fosse (NR)
OS 6"map, Isle of Skye, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

Duntulm Castle, the later seat of the Macdonalds of Sleat, stands on a quadrangular site 50' above the level of the sea, and has cliffs sinking steeply to the sea on three sides, while the fourth or landward approach slopes downward to da dry ditch cut through rock and earth. Midway a broad track crosses at nearly outside level, but this seems to have been formed in late times for convenience of approach. The depth of the ditch varies, but at some parts, where least worn down, is from 10'- 15'.
The principal structure of 15th century date, about 82' in length and 30' in breadth, lies athwart the site fronting the ditch, and from the buildings screen walls return, closely following the cliff edge, and enclosure an area, irregular in shape, of about 800 square yards; the interior level of the enclosure is very irregular and there are indications of vaulted substructures, in places built against the outer wall, over nearly the whole of it. A small 17th century tower has been added to the main block, with which it communicated, and projects within the courtyard. Beyond the tower in the NW corner of the enclosure is a later house 34' in length and 15' in breadth within walls 2' 2" thick. The walls of the enciente vary considerably in thickness. The NE angle of the enclosure is a projecting bastion circular on the lower part, the upper part being angular. The E angle of the main block is aldo an angular bastion.
The building throughout is in the local basaltic rubble, some of which is much weather-worn. It is in a very bad condition and much of it has fallen within recent years (RCAHMS 1928).
Historical Note: The earliest reference to Duntulm is by Munro (M Martin 1934) in 1549 where it is noted as 'the castell of Donntwyline pertaining to Donald Gromsone'. Another reference to Duntulm, dated by Skene (1886-90) to the late 16th century, notes it as a ruin; in 1617 the Privy Council required Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat to make it his seat and if the present buildings were not suitable to build or rebuild. (The ancient seat of the Sleat Macdonalds or Clan Husdein had been Dun Scaich: NG51SE 1 - RCAHMS 1928, No 599).
In or about 1732 Duntulm was abandoned in favour of Monkstadt House (NG36NE 7) the castle providing material for the rebuilding of that place.
The traditional predecessor of this castle was Dun David, or Dun Dhaibhidh. RCAHMS refer to it thus:- "Dun David, now the site of the ruins of Duntulm Castle. Martin (1934) names a Dun David but does not specify it further". On his map Duntulm Castle and Dunvegan Castle are given their own names.
W F Skene 1886-90; RCAHMS 1928; M Martin 1934; J Macintyre 1938; S Gordon 1950.

Duntulm Castle: as described above but in poor condition. No trace of the supposed Dun David was found.
Visited by OS (C F W) 25 April 1961.

Sources/Archives (17)



Grid reference Centred NG 4097 7433 (300m by 300m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG47SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish KILMUIR

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