I stayed in a village recently on the Isle of Skye called Kyleakin. As it was a last minute decision to stay there, I knew very little about this village and was surprised when I found out it had a castle.
As you can see from the photograph, it isn’t much of a castle, but it’s the story behind it that interested me as well as the view you get from the castle, which was my reason for choosing it for this week’s Foto Friday.
I love stories because, whether they are fact or fiction, they bring things to life. Like the Irish, Scots are great storytellers.
Findanus, from the MacKinnon clan, married a Norse princess called Mary in the year 900 and they lived in Castle Moil/Maol. The castle was in a perfect location as it gave Findanus and Mary a great view of Loch Alsh, so they could spot anyone trying to pass. They controlled passage through Loch Alsh and refused to let anyone pass unless they paid a toll. Apparently, they did this by laying a chain or thick rope across this stretch of water, so no boats were able to pass. If sailors refused to pay, they had to take the longer, more dangerous route round. If they paid the toll, they were able to continue their journey in safe, calm waters and, as the story goes, Princess Mary flashed her breasts at the sailors. This is how she got the nickname, ‘Saucy Mary’.
The castle is a ruin, having been battered by storms, and what you see today is from the 15th-16th century, not from 1st century. The thing is, if you go up, you’re doing so for the views.
The way to the castle is tidal. That means, should you decide to venture up, timing is everything. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to get stuck up there, would you? To avoid that, it’s worth checking with the locals before you go to make sure. There isn’t a clearly defined path up to the castle and, for that reason, I went up one way and came down another.
This is roughly where it is located in Kyleakin:
Have your say
Have you been to Castle Moil? What do you think of the story?