Tioram Castle – An Uncertain Future for One of Churchill’s Favorites

Described by Winston Churchill as one of the most beautiful places he knew, Castle Tioram, pronounced 'Cheerum' is located on a rocky tidal island, Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart in the Western Highlands on the west coast of Scotland. Tioram is the Gaelic word for dry and the island is only accessible at low tide across a sandy spit. It stands where the waters of Loch Moidart and the river Shiel meet.

Tioram Castle was the seat of power of the medieval Lord of the Isles and is the ancestral home and former seat of the Macdonalds of Clanranald. It was strategically located guarding the movement between the southern Hebrides and Skye or the outer isles. It also monitored the inland route past Loch Shiel. The castle was the main fortification protecting Moidart, Rum, Eigg, Canna, the Uists and Barra.

Tioram Castle was burnt on the orders of the last chief of the direct line when he set off to join the ill-fated Jacobite uprising of 1715. The idea was to keep it out of the hands of the Hanoverian forces. The castle was never restored and has been unoccupied since then. It is regarded as the most significant symbol of the rise and fall of the Lordship of the Isles, still visible today. Undoubtedly it is the most beautiful.

The curtain wall of the castle is believed to be from the 13th century. The tower and other interior buildings are from the 14th to 16th century. A five-sided structure whose high walls have rounded corners, its shape is in keeping with the natural outline of the island. There is no access to the buildings because of the risk of falling masonry.

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