Thursday, November 10, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 272

Castlebay, Isle of Barra, Scotland

The picture on this travel postcard shows Castlebay, the main village on Isle Barra one of the Outer Hebrides.  The card dates from approximately 1950s-1960s and has the number 6710 at the lower right front corner.  It is a “Hail Caledonia” product published by Whiteholme Ltd of Dundee, Scotland.   The latest population census lists the number of inhabitants as 1,174 with 761 or 62% Gaelic speakers.  Fishing and tourism are the main sources of income with a future Distillery planned.

The village takes it name from Kisimul Castle featured on the card below published and produced by the same company as the card above.  The number at the lower right is 6709. 

Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland

Considered more or less impregnable because the castle has its own fresh water wells and was built just off shore on a rocky islet that can only be reached by boat.   It has been the stronghold of the Clan MacNeil since the 11th century.  When the island was sold in 1838 the castle was abandoned and left to deteriorate.  Some of the stones were used as ballast for fishing boats and some ended up as paving in Glasgow.  Almost one hundred years later in 1937 the then clan chief, Robert Lister MacNeil who made some restorations, purchased the castle and most of the island of Barra.  In 2001 the Clan leased the castle to Historic Scotland for 1000 years for the annual sum of £1 and a bottle of whiskey.  There is an ongoing archaeological investigation of the castle to help determine the age of the castle and to see if anything else had been built there earlier.  Several items such as rubble and shells, pottery and animal bones have been unearthed thus far.  A small gold object in almost mint condition was also found and is currently being looked at by specialists to determine its age and purpose.

Thanks to J and K for sharing these two cards.

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