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Claig Castle

Claig Castle is situated on Fraoch Eilean (Heather Island) off Jura’s Southwest coast, in the Sound of Islay. Sadly little remains of this 13th century castle of enclosure and a later tower. The castle was protected by a ditch which once had a timber bridge that could be removed. It was the property of the MacDonald's, Lords of the Isles and was once a prison as well as a stronghold. Its location was perfect to keep a watchful eye over these important waterways and demand payment from passing galleys.

History of Claig Castle

The Vikings must have had their time until Somerled, whose descendants were to become the MacDonalds or Lords of the Isles, drove them out in the 12th Century. Until the 1600's the MacDonalds held much of the island with their stronghold at Claig Castle on Am Fraoch Eilean- near Ardfin. It is reputed that the MacDonalds extracted tolls from the ships passing through the Sound of Islay. The castle is today in ruins but it must have been a formidable building as the walls of the tower are 9ft thick. In the early 17th Century the MacDonalds fell out of favour with the Scottish Crown and most of their land on Jura was granted to the Campbells where it remained for many generations. At that time the Macleans with their base at Aros Castle - Glen Garrisdale owned the north end of Jura and they did not take kindly to the arrival of the Campbells. There was constant fighting between the Campbells and Macleans. The Macleans finally parted with their land by selling it to Donald McNeil of Colonsay in 1737.

Text by Fred Vincent: