1/ Was the gate found under the peat stack in North Uist actually a gate from Kisimul Castle?
2/ With the restoration of Kisimul Castle in the mid-20th century a new entrance was formed and the old entrance walled up within the castle’s curtain wall but was the original gate (or at least the gate that was there in the 19th century) reused?
a) There was no gate or iron ‘yett’ in the entrance a year before the peat stack newspaper article appeared in May 1939. A photograph ‘Detail of Entrance’ SC1254002 dated 6/1938 in the collection of Canmore shows the entrance walled up and stairs completely missing.
b) The photograph ‘Detail of original entrance’ SC1253891 taken in 1955 and also on the Canmore website does not have the gate hung. https://canmore.org.uk/collection/1253891
c) but the ‘View of curtain wall showing old and new entrances’ SC1253576 dated August 1967 does. https://canmore.org.uk/collection/1253576
We can therefore say that between 1955 and August 1967 what appears to be the present gate was fitted to the new entrance. SCRAN have a b&w photograph that appeared in ‘The Scotsman’ during restoration of the castle, no date but probably 1950s or 60s which appears to show the top half of the present gate in the background. Scran ref: 000-000-040-268
d) This piece describes who was employed in the works:-
“…architect of the restoration, never needed to look beyond Barra for the on-site labour, skills, and organising ability required to complete this work. Except for such specialised things as iron work and mill work, necessarily carried on away from every construction site, every bit of the restoration was performed by Barramen. Thus the
rebuilding of Kisimul was accomplished virtually entirely by the descendants of those who built the Castle…”
e) The following passage from Robert Lister MacNeil’s account of his restoration of Kisimul suggests that he did not have the original gate or ‘yett’:
“…I found myself uninformed regarding the correct design of some part of an extremely ancient castle. For example, there was the “yett” or hand-wrought iron grill for the castle’s entrance…”
From ‘Castle in the Sea’ by Robert Lister MacNeil, Vantage Press, 1975.
The entry for Kisimul castle in ‘The Buildings of Scotland: Highlands and Islands’ does not refer to the yett or gate.