Lonely Sheep at Caisteal Maol
This afternoon I am reporting on another example of a lonely Scottish sheep as reported in yesterday's Times newspaper.
The facts here are similar, but not identical, to the recent media circus surrounding Fiona, the sheep which was stranded at bottom of a steep cliff on the Black Isle for two years.In this case, the sheep, which has been named 'Mary' by locals, has taken up residence in the ruins of a 15th century castle on the Isle of Skye. The site is dangerous but nevertheless offers a way out should the animal so desire but it seems quite happy to stay in situ and is wary of humans. This is strange because sheep are social animals forming flocks.The animal is in good condition and not weighed down by a heavy fleece.
The site is known as Castle Moil (or Caisteal Maol in Gaelic).
For ease of reference the sheep is of the common White Face breed images of which are provided below for illustration purposes.
White Face Sheep
Information on Caisteal Maol
This castle is strategically located at Kyleakin to control the waterway between Isle of Skye and the mainland.
Around the 9th-13th centuries the site may have been important to the the Norwegian Vikings who controlled the region. It is believed that in the nearby waterway (or Kyle) King Haakon IV of Norway assembled his fleet prior to the Battle of Largs in 1263. The castle was historically known as Dun Acainn which roughly translates as ‘Haakon’s Fort’. This naming confirms the viking connection.Kyleakin is a small village at the eastern end of the Isle of Skye, opposite to Kyle of Lochalsh.
Kyle of Lochalsh is located at the entrance to Loch Alsh, a sea loch. This village benefits from a railway station and a choice of accommodations.
Kyle of Lochalsh viewed from Kyleakin
Clan Mackinnon connection
The current structure represent the ruins of a three storied, rectangular keep which was originally the fortress of Clan Mackinnon. This fortification was operational between the 15th and 17th centuries after which it deteriorated into its current ruined state.
Current state of the castle
The remaining castle walls have been secured to prevent further deterioration but the site is unsafe to visit. In February 2018 the poor condition was exacerbated by damage caused by a lightning strike.
Image taken in September 2021
Information on castles, Isle of Skye and battles can be found in
Visitors’ Guide to Scotland. The ISBN is 978-1-9161332-0-4 and the book
is also available via Kindle.