Armadale Castle, Isle of Syke, Scotland

Situated in the Scottish Highlands on the Isle of Skye, Armadale Castle was home to members of the Macdonald clan from the mid 17th century. Also occupying castles at Dunscaith, Knock, and Duntulm, the Macdonlads arrived on Syke from the Southern Hebrides in the 15th century. As it stands today, Armadale Castle is but a shadow of its former grandeur and appears to comprise three distinct elements.

The oldest section of Armadale Castle is the small white building on the eastern end of the main frontage. This is the only surviving part of a new mansion built by Lord Macdonald on the site in 1790. From 1975 this area was used to house the 'Museum of the Isles', but this moved in 2002 to a new purpose built structure, and the rooms were subsequently restored. Originally this white building would have extended all the way across to what now appears to be a large ecclesiastical archway with pillars rising above - it is now used for weddings and conferences.

As mentioned previously to the west is a large ecclesiastical archway, which formed the central entrance to a substantial 'Gothic' extension, designed by James Gillespie Graham, and added to the mansion in 1815. The remains of this towering structure are now largely clad in ivy. Sadly, the once magnificent staircase has all but disappeared, the ruins now playing host to a pretty patio garden.

Following a disastrous fire in 1855, the architect, David Bryce, was commissioned to re-design the 1790s house. His work forms the very bold and square central part of the building which appears intact from the outside. However, closer inspection reveals that it is, in fact, no more than an empty shell.

Maintenance costs were becoming prohibitive for the family during the early 20th century, and in 1925 they eventually left Armadale Castle for a smaller property. Left to the extremes of the Highlands weather, the abandoned home soon fell into a state of decay. It was not until the 1970s that the buildings were consolidated, following the purchase of the entire estate by the Clan Donald Land Trust.

Today, Armadale Castle ruins form the central point of a splendid 40 acres of parkland and gardens, where warm air from the gulf-stream allows the sheltered grounds to flourish with trees and exotic shrubs from around the world.

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