The rebuilding of one of Scotland's most famous castles

It is one of Scotland's most photographed landmarks and the very essence of the romantic Highland castle.

The rebuilding of Eilean Donan Castle took 20 long years.

But Eilean Donan Castle, as we see it today, was opened just 87 years ago following one of the most arduous and ambitious restoration projects of its day.

The 13th Century pile stood a ruin in the waters of Loch Duich for 200 years after a British Government attack. It took 20 years to piece it back together.

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

Sign up to our History and Heritage newsletter

It is one of Scotland's most photographed landmarks and the epitome of the great Highland castle. But Eilean Donan as we see it today is just 87 years old. Originally, it could only be reached by boat.
The castle, at Loch Duich was destroyed by the Royal Navy during the minor Jacobite Rising of 1719, when Jacobites and their Spanish supporters garrisoned the stronghold. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
A number of Spanish soldiers were taken hostage with the remainder fighting at the Battle of Glenshiel (pictured) in June 1719, which ended in British Government victory. PIC: Creative Commons.
Eilean Donan Castle, once the traditional seat of Clan Mackenzie, lay a ruin for the next 200 years. PIC: Creative Commons.
Lt. Col. John MacRae-Gilstrap (left) of the MacRae's of Conchra, the traditional bodyguards to Clan Mackenzie, bought the castle in 1911 and launched the restoration in 1919. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The job was to take almost 20 years. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
Stones, some weighing about 1.5tons, were taken from the hills by Lochlongside and carried to the castle by horse and boat. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The restoration was praised at a time when Scottish castles were facing wholesale demolition given the rising costs of maintaining such properties. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The restoration was a tough manual affair with a crane not used until the final stages of the job. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
Members of the MacRae-Gilstrap family check in on progress - along with the family dog. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
Those working on the long restoration job were charged with rebuilding walls that were 13-feet deep in parts. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
A simple crane is brought in to help move the giant pieces of stone needed for the job. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The large timber planks needed for the job were brought in from Canada. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The castle tower takes shape once again. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
Lt Col MacRae-Gilstrap was praised for his vision and his never-dying love of the Gael...and determination that the clan spirit shall live. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The restoration of Eilean Donan has been described as a "phoenix rising from the ashes."
Over two decades, one of the most recognisable landmarks in Scotland took shape. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The final piece of the job was adding the now-famous bridge to the island castle. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
The opening ceremony on a rainy day in July 1932 drew hundreds of people from this part of the Highlands. PIC: Eilean Donan Castle.
An account from the opening queried whether any castle in the world could surpass the "natural grandeur of the the rugged setting" of Eilean Donan. PIC: Creative Commons.
Today, Eilean Donan Castle attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year. It is easy to see why. PIC: Swee Oon/Creative Commons