If you’re looking to engage in a little historic exploration, then the Isle of Skye offers a wide range of places to visit, which combined with excellent places to eat and the breathtaking Skye scenery will ensure you’ll have an amazing holiday experience.
We’ve brought together 20 historic places into the following groups:
- Tourist Classic
- Ancient History
- Crofting, the Clearances & Cultural History
Come visit the Isle of Skye and enjoy!
Starting with a few tourist classics, you can’t miss these two superb castles:
1. Armadale Castle / Clan Donald
Museum of the Isles. Discover the history of the Highlands and Islands through the story of Clan Donald, its most powerful clan, at Clan Donal Centre. The Clan Donald established itself on Skye in the 15th century, occupying castles at Dunscaith and Knock, both within a few miles of Armadale, and Duntulm Castle at the north end of the island.
From the 1650s, the MacDonald chiefs also began to stay at Armadale. From the 1700s onwards, the mansion house at Armadale was used as a dower house (a large home occupied by the widow of a late owner or chief) and then rented out to others.
A number of famous historical figures have visited Armadale over the years. Flora MacDonald, famed throughout the world for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie to flee Scotland after the Jacobites’ defeat at Culloden, was married here on 6 November 1750. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell visited in 1773.
See http://www.clandonald.com/ for more details.
2. Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. On display are many fine oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred Banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod will defeat their enemies.
3. Ceumannan – Staffin Ecomuseum
Dinosaur footprints and trackways continue to be uncovered on the Trotternish Peninsula in the rocks of the Mid Jurassic age (175 million years ago)
In 2005 Skye’s dinosaurs made an historic appearance in the Guinness Book of World Records, when the island was recorded as having the World’s smallest dinosaur footprints. These prints are held in the Hunterian Museum, but Staffin Museum has replicas.
In this museum the public has the rare opportunity to see Scotland’s most impressive collection of Scottish dinosaur remains. The dinosaur discoveries from Bearreraig Bay and the beach near the slipway at Staffin Bay have increased the number of visitors. Giant footprints of the carnivorous dinosaur found at An Corran are the most accessible of our dinosaur remains, though these are exposed during the winter months only.
See http://www.skyecomuseum.co.uk for more details
4. High Pasture Cave
Uamh an Ard Achadh (High Pasture Cave) is a limestone cave situated 1.25km south east of the village of Torrin on the island of Skye, dating back to the Late Bronze Age/Iron Age period.
See http://www.high-pasture-cave.org/ for more details.
5. Broch, near Struan
Dun Beag (the small fort) is the best known, the best preserved, and the most accessible broch on Skye. Dates back to aprox few hundred year BC.
6. Duntulm Castle near Uig
Duntulm Castle stands ruined on the north coast of Trotternish, on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, near the hamlet of Duntulm. During the 17th century it was the seat of the chiefs of Clan MacDonald of Sleat.
7. Fairy Bridge
Dancing fairies spooking travellers horse, location of the revival and place where the fairy wife of the Chief of the Clan Macleod gifted a silken shawl to be used in times of trouble. Sit a while near to the Fairy Bridge and you’ll conjure up your own folk tale. See the remains of the Fairy flag in Dunvegan Castle.
8. The Lump, Portree
The Meall or ‘The Lump’ in Portree on the Isle of Skye is the name given to the hill above the harbour and old quay which juts out into Loch Portree. Once the setting for public hangings, it is now used as a venue for the annual Isle of Skye Highland Games. It offers great views, especially from the top of the Apothecary’s Tower, a nineteenth century folly recently restored by Iain MacLeod.
9. Kilmuir Graveyard, Dunvegan
Kilmuir Graveyard, Dunvegan, the Burial Place of the MacLeods is situated on high ground overlooking Loch Dunvegan. A stone wall encloses the gravestones surrounding the ruins of St Mary’s Chapel. The roofless ruin has a date of 1694 over the north entrance, but the condition of some stones predates this period. There are also late medieval gravestones and some 18th century table stones. Central is an obelisk from the early 18th century, in memory of Lord Thomas Frazer, father of Simon Fraser of Lovat, who died while visiting the Chief at Dunvegan Castle in 1699.
Crofting, the Clearances & Cultural History
During the unsettled times of the late nineteenth century, when the local crofters sought land reform, this area played an important part in the struggle. After the Battle of the Braes in 1882, the unrest spread to Glendale. Visit The Glendale Trusts Heritage Visitor Centre if it is open.
11. Trumpan Massacre or Battle of the Spoiling Dyke
Trumpan is a hamlet located on the Vaternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye. Trumpan church, which is now a ruin, was the focus of a particularly brutal incident in 1578, when the Clan MacDonald of Uist travelled to Trumpan in eight boats and under cover of a thick mist, burnt alive all the worshipping church-goers, with only one member managing to escape. This led to instant retribution by Clan MacLeod who killed all the invaders, before they had time to flee the island. This skirmish is known as the Battle of the Spoiling Dyke.
Flodigarry is a scattered settlement on the north east side of the Trotternish peninsula.
Highland Heroine Flora MacDonald famously helped “Bonnie” Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender) escape from the Isle of Uist to Skye. The prince had fled following defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. In 1750 the Jacobite Flora MacDonald and her fiancee Allan MacDonald were married and lived in a cottage in Floddigarry.
See http://www.flodigarry.co.uk/ for more details
13. Staffin Museum
Staffin Museum contains excellent collections of local geological and fossil specimens, as well as representative artefacts illustrating the prehistory and social history of Trotternish.
14. Skye Museum of Island Life
The Skye Museum of Island Life at Kilmuir, Isle of Skye was opened in 1965. The aim was to preserve a township of thatched cottages, each one depicting, as closely as possible, the conditions prevailing on the island at the close of the nineteenth century. More information
15. Battle of the Braes
Battle of the Braes (19 April 1882), reputedly the last battle fought on British soil. Local crofters, led by Nicolson women and engaged in the struggle for land rights, fought police from Inverness, just south of Portree.
16. Borreraig Piping Museum
Exhibition of pipes and clan history telling of the MacCrimmonds roll as heriditary Pipers to Clan MacLeod of Dunvegan Castle. At Borreraig the MacCrimmons taught at one of the best known “piping colleges” in the Highlands of Scotland. More information on Wikipedia
17. Neist Point Lighthouse
Built in 1909 by David A Stevenson, Neist Point was automated in 1990. Neist Point provides breathtaking views, bird watching, climbing and fishing from the rocks.
18. Giant Mackaskill Museum, Dunvegan
Angus Mòr MacAskill, frequently referred to as Giant MacAskill or Black Angus (1825 – August 8, 1863), was a Scottish giant, and is the world’s largest “true” giant (a man of normal proportions, suffering no growth abnormalities). The 1981 Guinness Book of World Records posits Angus as the tallest “natural” giant in recorded history, and possibly as a result the strongest man in recorded history, as well as being the man with the largest chest measurements of any non-obese man (80 inches, or 2,000 mm). Read more about the history
19. Toy Museum, Glendale
Set in the North West corner of the Isle of Skye this family friendly museum is unique in that not all the toys are hidden behind glass . 2012 is the museum’s 25th and final year to open.
20. Glenelg – Skye Ferry Crossing
Ferry boat, the Glenachulish, is the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland. The service operates between Easter and mid-October.
For how long people have made the sea crossing over the Kylerhea Narrows, no-one knows for certain, but it is part of a route that is certainly ancient and of great historical significance. The stretch of water on which the ferry now travels is the shortest distance from the Isle of Skye to the mainland, a distance of only 3 cables, or 550 metres.
This was the crossing that was used for many centuries by the cattle drovers who used to swim hundreds of their small black Highland cattle over here every season to begin their long trek south to the cattle fairs in the Lowlands.
Martin Martin noted that there was a ferry service here in the late 17th century, and, largely inspired by Martin’s account, a crossing was made from here to Skye in 1773 by Dr Samuel Johnson, accompanied by his companion and biographer, James Boswell.
If you need any more information on any of the above historic places to visit on Skye, get in touch.