The Macraes were the Constables of Eilean Donan Castle.
Magnificently situated at the meeting of three lochs - Loch Long, Loch Alsh and Loch Duich - and
enclosed by steep sided mountain shores, Eilean Donan today is one of the most romantic and
easily recognised castles in Scotland. With its outline reflected in the waters of Loch Duich
and the moody colours of the mountains and moorlands all around, it is to many people the idyll
of a Scottish Highland castle.
Times past at Eilean Donan were not always peaceful. The castle as it stands today is, in
fact, largely a restoration. In 1719, four years after the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, a
Jacobite force sailed from Spain. Owing to a storm, only two ships landed at Eilean Donan,
disembarking the Earl of Seaforth - chief of the Clan Mackenzie - the Earl Marischal and the
Marquis of Tullibardine with some three hundred Spanish troops and some Irish officers. They
were joined by a few hundred Highlanders including Macraes, Rob Roy and a party of MagGregors.
While they encamped by the castle, waiting
vainly for reinforcements to arrive, three Royal Navy warships sailed into the loch and
destroyed Eilean Donan by means of a naval bombardment and the exploding of powder kegs set
within the castle. The old kirk of Kintail on Loch Duich was also destroyed and neighbouring
homesteads were sacked. On 10 June 1719, just two months after the landing, the rebellion was
crushed at the Battle of Glen Shiel, just a few miles from Loch Duich, when government forces
overwhelmed the Jacobites, dispersing the Highlanders and enforcing the surrender of the
A contemporary account of the destruction of Eilean Donan has survived in the form of the logs of
two of the Royal Navy ships involved in the action.