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TITLE
Brochel Castle
EXTERNAL ID
HCD_PRINT_006
PLACENAME
Brochel, Raasay
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
DATE OF IMAGE
1995
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
David L. Roberts
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
13202
KEYWORDS
castles
clan
MacLeods
ruin
reconstruction
Brochel
Brochel Castle

This watercolour reconstruction of Brochel Castle on Raasay, by David L. Roberts, shows the structure as it may have appeared in the late 16th century. Pictured from the eastern, seaward side, the castle seems to emanate from the natural rock. William Daniell's aquatint of the castle, as well as surviving ruins and photographic evidence over the years, was used to piece together the probable structure.

The remnants of Brochel castle stand on a sandstone stack overlooking the Inner Sound on the north east side of the Island of Raasay. Though once a traditional stronghold of the MacSweens, the castle is said to have been built by the first chief of the MacLeods of Raasay, Calum MacGillichaluim, younger son of Calum MacLeod the 9th Chief of the MacLeods of Lewis. No documentary evidence exists to confirm the date of its construction, but it is mentioned in documents in 1549 and again in a military survey of the late 16th century. The MacLeod Chiefs of Raasay remained in residence until the late 17th century, when they appear to have moved to their other tower house at Clachan.

William Daniell's view of the castle in 1819 shows the north eastern tower still intact, with the sheer walls of rock and masonry conjuring a dramatic setting. The castle made the most of the unique site, with four distinct structures on different levels and an internal courtyard. Access was through a deep entrance passage, protected by a gate house, from which steps led up to the courtyard, flanked by towers. Wall recesses, small windows and the garderobe or toilet provide clues to the uses of different chambers within the towers and walls and Daniell's illustration yields valuable information on a once picturesque structure. Remarks recorded by James Boswell after he and Dr Johnson visited in 1773 also reveal useful clues as to the layout.

Lack of consolidation, leaving the castle at the mercy of the elements, has meant that much of the building has fallen to the base of the stack, and what remains is too dangerous to allow access.

The artist, David L. Roberts (1931 - 1997), set up the Orbost Gallery on the Isle of Skye after moving there in 1975. With a background in architectural studies, he was able to combine his artistic talents and knowledge of structures to provide reconstruction paintings of historical buildings for Dualchas, the Local Museums Service. Based on surviving ruins, antiquarian illustrations, and a certain amount of educated supposition, the paintings were produced to illustrate The Mediaeval Castles of Skye and Lochalsh, first published in 1990. This book, republished in 2007, gives detailed descriptions of the architecture of each castle.


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Brochel Castle

INVERNESS: Portree

1990s

castles; clan; MacLeods; ruin; reconstruction; Brochel

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

David L. Roberts' Prints and Drawings

This watercolour reconstruction of Brochel Castle on Raasay, by David L. Roberts, shows the structure as it may have appeared in the late 16th century. Pictured from the eastern, seaward side, the castle seems to emanate from the natural rock. William Daniell's aquatint of the castle, as well as surviving ruins and photographic evidence over the years, was used to piece together the probable structure.<br /> <br /> The remnants of Brochel castle stand on a sandstone stack overlooking the Inner Sound on the north east side of the Island of Raasay. Though once a traditional stronghold of the MacSweens, the castle is said to have been built by the first chief of the MacLeods of Raasay, Calum MacGillichaluim, younger son of Calum MacLeod the 9th Chief of the MacLeods of Lewis. No documentary evidence exists to confirm the date of its construction, but it is mentioned in documents in 1549 and again in a military survey of the late 16th century. The MacLeod Chiefs of Raasay remained in residence until the late 17th century, when they appear to have moved to their other tower house at Clachan.<br /> <br /> William Daniell's view of the castle in 1819 shows the north eastern tower still intact, with the sheer walls of rock and masonry conjuring a dramatic setting. The castle made the most of the unique site, with four distinct structures on different levels and an internal courtyard. Access was through a deep entrance passage, protected by a gate house, from which steps led up to the courtyard, flanked by towers. Wall recesses, small windows and the garderobe or toilet provide clues to the uses of different chambers within the towers and walls and Daniell's illustration yields valuable information on a once picturesque structure. Remarks recorded by James Boswell after he and Dr Johnson visited in 1773 also reveal useful clues as to the layout.<br /> <br /> Lack of consolidation, leaving the castle at the mercy of the elements, has meant that much of the building has fallen to the base of the stack, and what remains is too dangerous to allow access.<br /> <br /> The artist, David L. Roberts (1931 - 1997), set up the Orbost Gallery on the Isle of Skye after moving there in 1975. With a background in architectural studies, he was able to combine his artistic talents and knowledge of structures to provide reconstruction paintings of historical buildings for Dualchas, the Local Museums Service. Based on surviving ruins, antiquarian illustrations, and a certain amount of educated supposition, the paintings were produced to illustrate The Mediaeval Castles of Skye and Lochalsh, first published in 1990. This book, republished in 2007, gives detailed descriptions of the architecture of each castle. <br /> <br /> <br /> This image can be purchased.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href= "mailto: skyeandlochalsh.archives@highlifehighland.com" >Skye and Lochalsh Archives</a>