The Kilt Rock Of Skye

Sep 23, 2014 by


Located on the Trotternish Peninsula of the Isle of Skye, Kilt Rock is an impressive 200 foot high sea cliff in the Scottish Highlands.

The cliff gets its name from the vertical basalt columns (the pleats) and horizontal dolorite rock strata (the pattern) which combine to give the appearance of a traditional Scottish tartan kilt.

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Kilt Rock, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland    Image:Nicolas Valentin

 

Fed by the waters of Loch Mealt, the Mealt Waterfall freefalls over Kilt Rock into the Sound of Raasay below.   The winds around the cliff are often incredibly strong, sometimes turning the waterfall to mist before it can even reach the sea below.

 

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Mealt waterfall over Kilt Rock in Scotland. Image: TuVeuxMaPhoto

 

Kilt Rock’s location on the beautiful Isle of Skye in Scotland makes it a popular tourist destination. There is ample parking nearby, as well as an observation platform that allows good views of Kilt Rock and the waterfall.  Rock climbers challenge Kilt Rock on a regular basis, so don’t be surprised to see people moving up and down the rock face.

 

 

As is true with real kilts, spectators should approach Kilt Rock with extreme caution, as trying to get too close of a view can prove hazardous to your health.

 

 

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The Ghosts of Duntulm Castle

Apr 20, 2014 by

Atop a rocky seaside cliff on the Trotternish peninsula of Skye sits the ruins of Duntulm Castle, former seat of the Clan MacDonald of Sleat.  It is thought that an Iron age broch or dun, known as Dun Dhaibhidh, perhaps used by Viking raiders along the coast, once stood on the site, but there is no conclusive evidence.   The castle was built in the 14th or 15th century, most likely by the MacLeod clan, but by the 17th century the area was in the control of the MacDonalds, led by Sir Donald MacDonald of Sleat, “Donald Gorm Og”, the 9th chief of the clan.   The MacDonalds maintained Duntulm until 1732, when Sir Alexander MacDonald built a new residence, Monkstadt House, about 5 miles away  and abandoned the castle.   Duntulm has lain in ruins ever since, an empty shell of its former self, and peopled only by the ghosts said to haunt the castle.

Locals say there are several ghosts at Duntulm, including the specter of Hugh MacDonald (a cousin of the laird, Donald Gorm) who was starved to death in the castle’s dungeon, allegedly for coveting the lands of the clan. The gruesome tale contends Hugh went mad from lack of food and water and tried to eat his own hands before he died. His screaming ghost now walks the castle, howling his pain to whoever can hear it.

 

Panoramic view from Duntulm Castle. Photo by John Lees

Panoramic view from Duntulm Castle. Photo by John Lees

 

Another ghost story says the castle is haunted by Donald Gorm, the laird who starved Hugh MacDonald; legend has it that Donald fights with the other ghosts, perhaps just to keep things lively in the spectral realm.

 

 

The saddest ghost story involves the nursemaid to the chieftain’s son, who apparently dropped the poor babe out of a castle window onto the rocks below, killing the child. The chieftain (the story isn’t clear as to which laird was the father) was so enraged, he had the nursemaid put into a small boat and set adrift in the cold Atlantic. This woman, along with another whose husband shunned her after she was disfigured, weep as they walk the former halls of Duntulm.

Local lore says it was the combined activities of all the restless ghosts that drove the MacDonald clan to abandon the castle forever in 1732. The clan laird did scavenge stones from the castle to build the new home, an admirable bit of recycling, but one that might give Duntulm’s lively spirits a free ride to the new place. Personally, if I had to flee my home because it was so haunted, I don’t think I’d take ANY of the stones with me, no matter how much money or time it saved.

Night falls on Duntulm Castle

Night falls on Duntulm Castle Photo by Bruce Stokes

 

Duntulm, perched high atop  basalt cliffs beside the turbulent waves of the Atlantic,  is almost constantly buffeted by strong winds. It could be that all those spooky sounds are merely wind whistling through the stones of the castle. This is Scotland, however, a land filled with myth, mystery and the lasting echoes of its own turbulent and deadly history.   Who can say for sure that the sad, mad and angry spirits of Duntulm aren’t still walking the ruins of their former lives?

 

SOURCES:

Duntulm Site Record, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

Duntulm castle, by David Ross, Britain Express

Medieval-Castle.com

Duntulm Castle, Wikipedia

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