The Ruins of MacLeod’s Tower, Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

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While travelling around Scotland or the Western Islands, if you are like me, your eyes are looking for any castle shape buildings, scanning the countryside.  Then suddenley a building will emerge from stone coloured rock……..quick camera at the ready, point and press, all at about 60 mph.  Sometimes I miss, but more often than not, I do caputre something, like these remains of a building on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.


This wonderfully atmospheric medieval tower house known as MacLeods’s Tower, occupies a small island, a handmade crannog, in the centre of Loch Tangasdale, just north west of Castlebay. The unvaulted tower dates to the middle of the 15th century, although it stands on a much earlier Iron Age dun. It was built by the delightfully named John the Rough in 1430, who was the son of Marian of the Heads. It was originally 3 storeys high but the crumbling walls are now only half that height.

Don’t imagine a massive medieval fortress; this is a small defensive structure, albeit one in a beautiful location! The structure only measures 2.9 x 2.6 metres interior dimension, and the walls are 1.4 metres thick. Unless you bring a boat with you, you won’t be able to access the tower itself, there are some signs that there once was a causeway, but you get a good view from the loch side.

There is no history attached to the building, so why it was built is anyones guess, but I like to think, they just wanted to get away from it all.


3 Replies to “The Ruins of MacLeod’s Tower, Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland”

  1. That looks an intriguing place, and on a crannog too! There doesn’t look to be much room for manoeuvre, although maybe the crannog was bigger at one time. Hmm, John the Rough, son of Marian of the Heads – don’t mess with them! 🙂

    1. Yes I think the crannog was much bigger and there was a causeway, but they have worn away over time. But its so cute and you really wonder why it was built. Must look up John and his mum, there might be a story there 🙂

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