#183 Eilean Donan Castle
8 miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh
South Highland, Scotland
1220 - 16th century
This is NOT an official Lego site

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, but its beautiful setting and tranquil appearance belie a full and checkered history.  The castle is located on a tidal island at the junction of Lochs Long, Alsh and Duich.  The earliest known fortification was an enceinte [curtain wall] built by King Alexander II about 1220. It enclosed much of the island [See first plan].  The fortification was built to protect the Earldom of Ross and other nearby realms from the Viking "pirates", presumably from the Lordship of the Isles, a powerful, nominally Norwegian, but mostly independent kingdom, which included the Western Isles, Shetlands, Orkneys and the Isle of Skye.  The tower was built by either King Alexander II or III, or Farquhar II, Earl of Ross.  The date of the tower is generally listed as 14th century, and thus it was probably built after Robert the Bruce was sheltered there in 1306. 
King Alexander III gave the lands to Colin Fitzgerald for his help defeating the Norsemen under King Haakon [Haco] in 1263.  His grandson, who in the Gaelic was called Coinneach MacChoinneach (Kenneth son of Kenneth), 3rd Baron of Kintail, became corrupted in English into Mackenzie (pronounced: MacKenny) and hence arose all the families of Mackenzie in Scotland. The name “Mackenzie”, therefore, coming from the Gaelic: “MacCoinneach” meaning: “Son of the Fair One”.  In 1331 the Earl of Moray apparently sent a messenger to the Mackenzies at Eilean Donan, warning of an impending visit.  Fifty wrongdoers were quickly apprehended and beheaded, with the severed heads mounted on the castle walls, thus assuaging the Earl.  In the mid-14th century, a son of the Irish Macrae clan chieftain arrived in Kintail with his family, and by ancient kinship or perhaps an advantageous marriage, the MacRaes soon became the loyal protectors of the Mackenzies.  In 1509 the MacRaes became constables of Eilean Donan Castle, and were counted on during about 75 years of clan attacks and retaliations between the Mackenzies and MacRaes, and various MacDonald factions.  Colin Mackenzie was created Earl of Seaforth in 1623.
The saga continued with the English Civil War.  The Mackenzies (and MacRaes) sided with King Charles I, but after his execution in 1650, Parliament sent a party of 30 soldiers to garrison the castle.  When they requested provisions from the locals [Mackenzies and MacRaes], the ensuing argument resulted in several casualties, and the garrison departed.  Then in 1689 King James VII [Roman Catholic] was declared forfeit of the Crown in favor of William of Orange [Protestant].  The resultant "Jacobite Risings" caused William Mackenzie, 6th Earl of Seaforth, to hire 50 Spanish mercenaries to garrison the castle for King James.  On May 10, 1719, three Royal Navy frigates sailed into Loch Duich, and when fired upon by the Spaniards, proceeded to demolish Eilean Donan with cannon. [see picture].  For the next 200 years the castle languished in ruin, until 1919.  Then Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap, and his Clerk of Works, Farquhar MacRae, spent the next 20 years faithfully restoring the castle into the glorious monument we can visit today.
General Plan showing
the castle just after
the keep was built.
Yes, that's me at the
main gate in 2000.

Model of Eilean Donan at
Legoland in Bristol, England
Model of Eilean Donan at
Legoland in Billund, Denmark
General Ground Floor Plan General 1st Floor Plan General 2nd Floor Plan
with Ground Floor Plan of the Keep
General 3rd Floor Plan
with First Floor Plan of the Keep
2nd Floor Plan 3rd Floor Plan Garrett Plan Roof Plan
SE Elevation NE Elevation
NW Elevation
SW Elevation


Photos of the Lego Model
Under Construction early Spring 2023
Construction begins on March 19 and 20,
with this northwest view highlighting
the keep, with the postern gate mid-right
and the hornwork left.
On the morning of March 21, before the late
winter sun is up, here's the view from the
southeast, with a bit of progress.

By March 23, a good part of the eastern
side of the island is landscaped - and
Colin Fitzgerald and two of his sons
have arrived for a visit.
On March 24, the emphasis shifts to the
west side of the island, which faces
Loch Alsh and the Atlantic tides.
It is this side where the postern gate
and narrow stair feature the first few
hundred Lego elements going into
the actual castle itself!
The next day is devoted to landscaping
the slope up from Loch Alsh, where the
modern stair leads down to the pathway
around the castle.
And a lot of substructure
is laid out in anticipation of
the actual castle model.
And on March 26th the staircases
up from the postern, and down to
the rooms below the courtyard are
completed, and the lower courtyard
is laid. 

The south landscape is finished on
March 27...
...so the next two days are devoted to
construction on the South West Wing
and the courtyard curtain wall...
...and the rocky promontory
of the Island of Donan upon
which the keep was erected.

By March 31 work has concentrated on the
south side of the castle...
...plus some definition of the
rocky promontory upon which
the keep will be built.
By April 3, the northwest tower
and the curtain wall that
protects the west side of the
castle is complete.
The curtain wall involves a lot of
speculation on my part, due to
major changes in the reconstruction.
On April 5, the South West Wing is completed.
And much work is done creating
the rocky promontory inside the
courtyard and defining the
range which connects the
SW Wing and the Keep.
On April 7 work begins on the fourth design
of the hornwork, complex due to the angles
and the slope of the island.
By the next day walls are rising,
and three cannon are in place.
On April 10 the hornwork is mostly
...melding pretty well into the
older, roughly rectangular castle.
...and finally, on April 11, work
turns to the all-important keep!
The basement and main doors
are the first priority.
By April 14 the keep has risen
through the first floor...
...and the strength of Eilean
Donan castle begins to
become manifest.
The structure is in place on
April 16 so the parapets and
roof can be added.
And on April 17, the wall
walk is in place.  It looks like
4x4 corner panels will work
for the corner open rounds!
Here's the view from
the west...
...and the south.  These will
likely be the final construction
pictures.  Hopefully completed
model below within the week.


Photos of the Lego Model
Built March 19 thru April 22, 2023
These pictures were taken
on April 22 [pm] or April 23
[early am].  The NE view.
From the east, my somewhat
scrunched "slice" of Eilean
Donan is more apparent.
Looking at the southeast elevation, you
can appreciate the four similar sections
that will visit Brickworld Chicago in June.
The "South West Wing" is
actually the south corner
of the castle
The southwest view is what the
Royal Navy frigates saw as
they shelled the castle in 1719.
The west view really high-
lights the castle from an
angle rarely seen by tourists
The rocky pinnacle of Eilean Donan
Island, such as it is, is a major
feature of the northwest view.
And from the north, a bit more
of the island can really be
Here are a few close-ups:
Of the island and hornwork.
And the castle courtyard(s). With a better view of the grassy
courtyard mound, and steps up
to the famous keep.
"May sheep safely graze"...
...And this crazy
lad not fall from the
windy corbie steps!
Who is the angry Scottish gentleman?
On a mission to "rescue" his daughter
from one of the Spanish mercenaries?
And possibly more later...


Build Your Own
As usual, plans are elevations are incomplete.
In addition, the Lego Plan shows the first
hornwork design, not the final version.
Lego Plan
SW to NE Cross Section NE to SW Partial Cross Section
Northeast Elevation Southwest Elevation Northwest Elevation

Other Eilean Donan pages:

Return to the main castle page.

Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed by Robert Carney &
Anne Sullivan
Page maintained by
Robert Carney