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Author Topic:   scotland mcneal castles and family history
posted 04-10-99 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for foxtrotrn2   Click Here to Email foxtrotrn2     Edit/Delete Message
would like to know of the mcneals of scotland. apparently there was a mcneal who had 18 or so sons and spelled each last name with a different variation of spelling for mcneal in order for each to be able to trace their family linage. also a castle exists and is currently opened to the public. i would appreciate any info on this family.

Senior Member
posted 04-10-99 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Geoff   Click Here to Email Geoff     Edit/Delete Message
The main MacNeil stronghold was Kisimul Castle on the Island of Barra. This is a very remote island in the Outer Hebrides to the north west of the Scottish mainland. The castle has been restored and stands on a rock in the middle of Castle Bay, the only place of any size on Barra (village size really).

There is a ferry service to Barra and the castle is well worth seeing. I don't know if you can go inside the castle.

Philip Davis
posted 04-11-99 02:44 AM           Edit/Delete Message
I strongly recommend going to http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/index.html The web site of The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments Scotland and using their CANMORE database. This has a fairly simple search engine which give instant result.
I found nothing under McNeal or MacNeal but plenty under MacNeil. I'm sure that their might be other things under varients of MacNeil. As a taster here some of the resultsof my quick look through;


Type of Site: Battle Site
NMRS Number: NM05SE 3


Map reference: NM 093 511
Parish: Coll
Council: Argyll And Bute

Archaeology Notes

NM05SE 3 093 511.

MacMeil's Bay is the traditional landing place of the MacNeil's of Barra who were slain there by the MacLeans of Coll.

E Beveridge 1903.


Beveridge, E (1903 )
Coll and Tiree: their prehistoric forts and ecclesiastical antiquities with notices of ancient remains in the Treshnish Isles,
[s.l.] (Edinburgh), 18-19,


Type of Site: Tower-House
NMRS Number: NF71SE 8


Map reference: NF 7 1
Parish: South Uist
Council: Western Isles

Archaeology Notes

NF71SE 8 unlocated.

" On Eriska, there is a tower which has been a stronghold of the MacNeils."

J MacCulloch 1824.

There is no local knowledge of a tower on Eriskay. Weaver's Castle (NF70NE 1) is supposed to have belonged to the MacNeils of Barra. It seems fairly
certain that the castle and the tower are one and the same. Visited by OS (E G C) 23 May 1965.


Macculloch, J (1824 )
The Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland: containing descriptions of their scenery and antiquities, with an account of the political history and ancient
manners and of the origin, language, agriculture, economy, music, present condition of the people &c &c &c,
4v, London, Vol.3, 3,


Type of Site: Residential/ Tower-House
NMRS Number: NL69NE 3


Map reference: NL 665 979
Parish: Barra
Council: Western Isles

Archaeology Notes

NL69NE 3 6651 9791.

(NL 6651 9791) Kiessimul Castle (NR) (Remains of).

OS 6" map, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., (1904)

Kiessimul Castle stands on a low rock rising a few feet above high water mark, 200 yds. from the shore of Castle Bay.

The Commission (RCAHMS 1928) dates the tower and curtain wall to the 15th c. with later buildings of the 17th and 18th c. MacGibbon and Ross (D
MacGibbon and T Ross 1889), however, date the original buildings to the 13th c. and are supported by Toy (S Toy 1966), who points out that "since there is
no note of its existence before the early part of the fifteenth century it has been assumed that it belongs to that period, despite its obviously more ancient
character", He notes the ommission of the prow on the south side of the keep from the commission plan and draws attention to the addition of a fourth storey at
a later period. Cruden (S Cruden 1960) says the south "wall face is perfectly flat" and disagrees with Toy (S Toy 1966) that there is a prow.

RCAHMS 1928; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1889; S Toy 1966; S Cruden 1960.

Generally as described above. According to Mr Robins (Schoolmaster, Castlebay, Barra) the original buildings are 13th. century with later additions from 15th
to 18th c. Toy's assertion (S Toy 1966) that there is a prow on the S wall of the keep is incorrect, and hence the plan supplied by the commission (RCAHMS
1928) (which agrees with Cruden {S Cruden 1960}) is accurate. The castle has been, and is in the process of being restored. It is occupied by The MacNeil of

Visited by OS (N K B) 24 May 1965.


Cruden, S (1960 a)
The Scottish castle,
Edinburgh, 42,

Dunbar, J G (1978 a)
'Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra',
Glasgow Archaeol J, 5, 1978, 25-43,

MacGibbon and Ross, D and T (1896-7 )
The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century,
3v, Edinburgh, 51-6,

Millar and Kirkhope, H B and J (1965 d)
'Borve Castle, Benbecula',
Discovery and Excavation, Scotland, 1965, 21-2,

RCAHMS (1928 )
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Ninth report with inventory of monuments and constructions
in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles,
Edinburgh, 126-8, No. 439,

Ritchie and Harman, J N G and M (1985 )
Exploring Scotland's heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles,
Exploring Scotland's heritage series, Edinburgh, 83, no. 29,

Toy, S (1966 )
The castles of Great Britain,
London, 130-2, 4th

Tranter, N (1962-70 )
The fortified house in Scotland,
5v, Edinburgh, vol. 5, 108,

Turner and Dunbar, D J and J G (1973 )
'Breachacha Castle, Coll: excavations and field survey, 1965-8',
Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 102, 1969-70, 174, 177,


Type of Site: Defence/ Castle
NMRS Number: NR77NW 1.00


Map reference: NR 712 788
Parish: North Knapdale
Council: Argyll And Bute

Archaeology Notes

NR77NW 1.00 7123 7882

NR77NW 1.01 7123 7883 Carved Stone Ball; Flint Arrowhead

NR77NW 1.02 7123 7882 Platforms; Kilns; Building

For industrial remains (including kilns and platforms) towards SE corner of curtain-wall enclosure, see NR77NW 1.02.

(NR 7123 7883) Castle Sween (NR)

Macmillan's Tower (NR) Well (NR)

OS 6" map, Argyllshire, 2nd ed., (1924)

Castle Sween, now ruinous, was probably built in the mid-12th century (S Piggott and W D Simpson 1970). The main structure, a quadrangular enclosing
wall, 6'-7' thick, measuring 84' x 70' over all, against the inner face of which three main ranges of timber buildings were originally disposed round a small
court, is Norman in appearance. The annexe to the W and its round tower - Macmillan's Tower - were probably added in the early 14th century, while the
rectangular keep was probably added to the NE corner in the 16th century. There is also a well, doubtless original, in the NE angle of the courtyard.

The castle was beseiged by Robert the Bruce, and was finally destroyed by Sir Alexander Macdonald in 1647.

S Piggott and W D Simpson 1970; W D Simpson 1967; J G Dunbar 1966.

The castle is as described and planned.

Visited by OS (DWR) 6 June 1973

No change to the report of OS (DWR).

Surveyed at 1/10,000.

Visited by OS (BS) 25 January 1977

Two small-scale excavations within the E half of the courtyard of this castle revealed a sequence of domestic and service ranges, culminating in an elaborate
industrial complex, all of which broadly echoed the succession of families associated with the site. The original simple enclosure castle as occupied by the
MacSweens until the mid 13th century may have featured some form of tower-like structure in the NE corner of the enclosure. The site was then extensively
remodelled under the Stewart Earls of Menteith, who built two towers outside the W wall of the primary enclosure, and a stone-built N range inside (c.1262
to 1362).

When the site was later occupied by the MacNeills of Gigha on behalf of the Lords of the Isles, a substantial E range with first floor hall, was built within
the courtyard, to compliment the new NE or 'Macmillans Tower' during the 15th century. Finally, with the discovery of a series of kiln-like structures and
ancillary sheds and compounds, it was evident that up to the end of its active life, under the Earls of Argyll c.1650, the E courtyard was largely cleared of
major buildings and the area given over to industrial usage, probably metal working.

John Ball
Senior Member
posted 04-11-99 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Ball   Click Here to Email John Ball     Edit/Delete Message
The MacNeils also held Breachacha Castle,
NM 159 539, and Dun Mhic Leod, NL 648 997.

posted 06-18-99 03:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
Hi, it seems Philip and I must be Canmore's most frequent visitors. It's our regular starting point for information on Scottish Castles.

Maybe we need a direct link to the site?

T Graham Hayward
Laird of Castle Levan
Gourock, Scotland UK

Philip Davis
posted 06-18-99 04:16 PM           Edit/Delete Message
Canmore certainly is a wonderful resource. A comprehensive archeological database that you can search on the web. Well Done RCAHMS http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/index.html .
There is a similer database for English archaeolgical sites called Monarch, unfortuniately it is not possible to search this directly and you have to request the information from the The National Monuments Record at the RCHME in Swindon although a request form is available online at http://www.rchme.gov.uk/nmr.html . The staff their are very helpful but they charge for the information. Long fairly detailed reports are 34p each which is cheap for 1 or 2 records but quite a sum for reports on the 2283 medieval defensive sites that they inform me they have on record.
The IT situation in Wales is still very embryonic. Many archeolgical institutions do not have web sites at all and those that do just give snail mail addresses. Searches for information have been done via snail mail or in person at Aberywswyth. On the other hand Wales does have the fabulous Castles of Wales website.
I have tried to add some sites but I can not get the add site form to appear properly. The scribe tells me their is not fault with the site but I cannot resolve the fault my end. Is anyone else having this problem ( the add site links to the add site form do not work and the form is corrupted.)

Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them,
Psychiatrists charge the rent, art therapists do the interior design
and nurses clean out the garderobes!

All times are PT (US)

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