Duntulm Castle / Isle of Skye *

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© Copyright Alpin Stewart and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.



Duntulm, a crumbling old ruin, is quite ancient. First it was an Iron Age broch, then a Pictish fort, then a Viking stronghold and finally it was used as a castle first by the MacLeods and then by the MacDonalds.

Hugh Mc Donald, a powerful man, plotted against his uncle, Donald Gorm Mòr, who had no children. The title of Clan Chief would, in due course, pass to Hugh’s older brother, Donald Gorm Òg.

Hugh resolved to usurp the title. His plot was to culminate at a feast to celebrate the completion of his new residence on Skye, close to which he had built a fort, Caisteal Uisdean). Sadly for Hugh, his letter to the assassin and the invitation to dinner were each sent to the wrong person, thus giving Donald Gorm all the details of the plot. He was less than impressed. Donald Gorm Mòr, now aware of his nephew’s treachery, sent a party led by clansman Donald MacDonald, Dòmhnall mac Iain mhic Sheumais, to arrest Hugh, who was found taking refuge at Dun an Stìcir, disguised as a woman.

Hugh was imprisoned in the castle dungeon, and purposely starved to death. He was given only salted beef and no water and died stark raving mad (it is said that he even tried to eat his own hands before the end: see Caisteal Uisdean).

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