Knock Castle / Caisteal Camus (Dun Horavaig)
Isle of Skye
5 miles North of Armadale
Caisteal Camus or Knock Castle, lies on the East coast of Sleat, on Skye. Today it is ruin, standing on a steep headland with a ditch cutting off the promontory. It consists of a ruined 15th century keep with walks 4.3 feet thick of which one part, a window, remains 30 feet high.
There is evidence that the landward approach to the castle was cut with a ditch to make it harder to attack from this side. The other sides of the castle were protected by the sea, especially to the southeast, immediately beyond the keep. This side can be best viewed by following grassy slopes back the way you came, and then down to the right to the shore. This reveals a cleft in the natural rocks that presents a sheer rock face to anyone approaching from this side. It also forms what might have been a protected harbour that could be used by the residents of the castle. The site now occupied by the castle was originally the site of an Iron Age fort, Dun Thoravaig, Dun of the Bay of Thor.
~ History ~
1300's - Clan MacLeod build the first castle.
1402 - William, 4th chief of the MacLeod's, dies in the castle, leaving his ten year old son and heir, during whose minority the MacDonalds take over much of Skye, later capturing the MacLeod seats of Caisteal Camus and Dunscaith. On their march north to the chief MacLeod seat at Dunvegan Castle they are met by large MacLeod force where they are defeated. The MacDonalds are forced to abandon their hold on Skye and the castles of Caisteal Camus and Dunscaith. The MacLeod's make repairs to their castles.
1411 - Donald MacDonald Lord of the Isles claims Earldom of Ross through his wife. The MacDonald's return to Skye as overlords and drove out many of the MacLeod men, but not the women. One day a MacDonald slipped above a treacherous drop and only saved himself by grasping a grass sod. A MacLeod woman passed by and, hearing his cries came over to discover the terrified MacDonald. 'Ah well, you've taken everything else, so i suppose you had better take this with you', she said, and with that, gave the sod a kick, sending it and the luckless MacDonald to his doom.
1424 - Lord of the Isles forces are defeated at the Battle of Harlaw, near Aberdeen, by the Earl of Mar. The title reverts to the Crown.
1431 - Royal forces for King James I capture the castle during the struggles between Crown and the Lords of the Isles.
1513 - Following the death of King James IV at Flodden Field Sir Donald MacDonald attempts to resurrect the Lordship of the Isles. In this uprising Alasdair MacLeod overrun's Dunscaith and lays siege to Caisteal Camus. Despite the besieged hopeless situation, the Lady Mary encourages them to withstand the siege with the MacLeod's eventually forced to withdraw.
1596 - The MacDonalds rebuild and extend the castle.
1600's - Donald Gorm of Sleat is in possession of the castle with the proviso that the "Castle of Camus shall always be open to the King and his men" in response to Royal authority of the islands. Much work is done to improve the comfort of the castle for the King who never visits the castle.
1632 - The castle and lands are declared for Sir Donald MacDonald as chief overlord in the form of a bond.
1689 - The abandoned and ruined castle is robbed on much of its materials for the building of the nearby house of Knock.