Dawn at Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich, Loch Alsh and Loch Long, Highlands
© Joe Daniel Price/Getty Image
Icon of the Highlands. Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands
Behind this serene scene, at the meeting point of three Scottish sea lochs, lie centuries of tumult. Vikings, feuding clans and uprisings have come and gone, leaving their mark on this tiny tidal island, Eilean Donan, in the western Highlands.
There has been a castle of one form or another here since the early 13th century, originally built to help ward off Viking raiders. It has been rebuilt at least four times and was, for much of the medieval period, in the hands of Clan Mackenzie and their allies, the Clan MacRae. But for 200 years it lay in ruins after being largely destroyed by gunpowder, courtesy of the Royal Navy, during the 1719 Jacobite Rising.
The island, where Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh converge, was bought in 1911 by Lt Col John Macrae-Gilstrap. Along with his clerk of works, Farquar Macrae, he rebuilt and restored the castle over 20 years, opening it in 1932. It has gone on to become one of the most-visited Highlands attractions, whose image is often used on packaging and advertising. One practical, and picturesque, modern addition during the rebuilding was the stone bridge over the water. The medieval castle, built when roads were few and far between, would only have been accessible by boat when the tide was high.