By Greg Dobson

Castle Moil
green oil sketch on paper
23cm x 23cm
(8.97" x 8.97")
£120  
orange oil on canvas laminated to board
50cm x 50cm
(19.5" x 19.5")
£465  
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Castle Moil
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Just to the east of the village of Kyleakin, Caol Acain, and opposite the mainland at the Kyle of Lochalsh, Castle Moil sits on a small promontory of the Isle of Skye. So named for the 'kyle' - the narrow strait of water between Skye and the mainland - and 'akin' after King Haakon IV of Norway who sailed through here in 1263 on his way to defeat at the Battle of Largs which saw the end of Norwegian rule of the Hebrides. Castle Moil has been variously known as Dun Akyn, Norse for Hakon's Fort and An Caisteal Maol in Gaelic.

To prevent unpaid crossings the reputed builder of Castle Moil, a Norwegian princess and wife of a MacKinnon chieftain remembered today as "Saucy Mary", had a chain hung from the castle walls across the channel to the mainland. The chain was raised to block passage and thus allowed her to extract toll from all vessels which passed through the Kyles. What of her name? Allegedly Mary, following payment of her tolls would, as a gesture of thanks, flash her bosom at the sailors as the ships would pass. From 1841 to October 16, 1995 a ferry service operated continuously from Kyleakin to the mainland across the narrow straight of Loch Alsh, until it was replaced by the controversial Skye Bridge. The Skye Bridge, like Saucy Mary's efforts, demanded toll be paid, though in this case it was the highest rate of toll in all of Europe but the only intrigue was that it effectively put the ferry out of operation thus ending the charming passage across this historic strait.

Castle Moil was a stronghold of the MacKinnons until it was abandoned in the middle of the 17th century when the clan moved to Kilmarie. The main wall of the ruin was - though 11 feet thick - was badly damaged in a storm in February 1948 suffering from collapse in 1949 and 1989. The remaining walls have been secured to prevent further damage and the romantic ruin enchants even the locals as witness in Greg's two versions, one green and one orange.

Your purchase of any of Greg's fine art will benefit the restoration efforts associated with Burra Cottage.


Castle Moil, green
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