Scheduled Monument

Caisteal Uisdein, tower and associated buildings, Isle of SkyeSM8465

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Secular: dun (with post-prehistoric use)
Local Authority
NG 38057 58271
138057, 858271


This monument consists of a simple tower and the remains of associated buildings.

The tower is oriented WNW-ESE and measures roughly 15m by 10m. The entrance is in the middle of the east wall and first floor level, the ground floor having two window slits but no door. The first floor contained the hall with a fireplace in the north wall and windows one window in each of the north, south and east walls. Access to the level above was by a mural stair rising to the south of the entrance passage. Local tradition holds that the castle was never finished, it is therefore possible that the mural stair rose to a second floor rather than a wallwalk.

The castle was built by Uisdein (Hugh) MacDonald in the second half of the sixteenth century. Uisdein was notorious pirate and marauder who was finally captured after the discovery of his plot to kill Donald Gorm, chief of MacDonald, at Caisteal Uisdein.

While there is no record of occupation of Caisteal Uisdein after Uisdein's capture, nearby, to the North of the castle, are the visible remains of three buildings which are probably later than the tower. The closest building, visible only as turf covered footings is on the same rock platform as the tower. Two other buildings lie below the summit and consist of turf topped wall standing up to 1m high.

The area to be scheduled includes the remains of the tower, the three lesser buildings mentioned and an area around them which may contain evidence of the construction and use of the site. The area to be scheduled is defined to the W and S by the high water mark, to the E by a line 10m out from the E wall of the tower and to the N by a line 30m out from the N wall of the tower and by the line of a burn. The area is irregular in shape, measuring at its greatest extent roughly 70m NNW-SSE by 50m, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the well preserved remains of a late 16th-century towerhouse. Unlike many other towers of this date, Caisteal Uisdean was clearly built with defence, rather than display, as an over-riding concern. The existence of a variety of subsidiary and probably later buildings suggests that the site has seen longer occupation than the oral history surrounding the short-lived tower might suggest.



RCAHMS records the monument as NG35NE 1.


Miket R, and Roberts D L, 1990, The medieval castles of Skye and Lochalsh, Portree.

About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Caisteal Uisdein, tower and associated buildings, Isle of Skye

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 21/03/2019 07:37