Often an indicator of Island conflict, the imprint of history is to be found all over this area, the visitor may find a brief knowledge of times past can add much pleasure to a visit, be it day trip or summer vacation.
The Island's duns and brocks predate the birth of Christ, and at one time more than fifty existed, constructed by the Celts of Central Europe. Many of the ruined Brochs survive, the circular drystone towers of Dun Beag and Dun Fiadhairt can be seen at Struan and on the road to Claigan.
Castle Moil in the south of the Island was reputed to be the tenth century domicile of a Norweigan princess, who had a chain stretched from the castle over the narrow Kyle to the mainland. The objective was to exact tolls from passing vessels.
Many place names derive from from the Norse occupation, ended in 1263 at the battle of Largs. Under the 'Lord of the Isles' Skye attempted, unsuccessfully, a separation from the Scottish Crown. The Lordship was abolished at the end of the fifteenth century, but really this was the time of major clan rivalry, and the MacLeods and the MacDonalds fought many vicious engagements, culminating in the Coire na Creiche battle of 1601, sparked off by the local custom of 'handfasting'.
Visitors to Trumpan church today can experience the setting for an atrocity that has passed into Island folklore, 'the spoiling of the dyke', when the congregation was burnt alive by the MacDonalds. Failing to make their escape by sea from Ardmore, the intruders were caught and massacred by the MacLeods, being buried immediately under a toppled dyke.
Following the Culloden defeat of 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's attempts to escape Redcoat capture are a part of Island folklore. Raasay gave shelter to the fugitive, and Raasay House now stands on the site of a tower burnt down as a reprisal by government troops.
Evidence of the infamous highland clearances is to be found all over the area, crofters forcibly removed from Ramasaig and Lorgill in the Northwest were offered land in Nova Scotia. The sites are a reminder of mid-nineteenth century economic failures, and the heavy handed social response.
Factual history can been chronicled, for the evidence is everywhere. Myth and legend are not so easily explained, their origins often uncertain and their accuracy lost forever in the mists of time. The legend of the old Fairy Bridge, at the turn for Waternish, does not bother today's motorist, but it was a crossing which filled travellers of a bygone age with fear. Three murders were commited at the bridge, which had a real sense of evil, and many men would not pass that way after nightfall.
Whatever interest history holds for you, you cannot travel this area without encountering the past. Enjoy a stroll through the land of legend... unforgettable!