In retrospect it is pretty obvious, I guess, that such an overwhelmingly strategic location as Eilean Donan should have been occupied and fortified for as long as humankind has detemined a need for such things... it took a while for the penny to drop, however, that the castle which delights tourists by the coachload is but the latest in a long line of defensive structures to stand upon this little island. A chance viewing of the magical word 'vitrification' in an old childhood book prompted a search of the Canmore database; thus:
' A straight length of collapsed walling some 55.0m long lies close to the shoreline on the NW side of the bridge.....and loose pieces of vitrification occur amongst the debris. Despite this, however, it may be relatively modern but there is little doubt that a vitrified structure formerly occupied the island. [OS (A A) 19 June 1974]'
Surely one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, the current structure is a virtually complete restoration (although apparently more or less faithful to surviving original plans) of a 13th century castle undertaken by Lt-Col MacRae-Gilstrap between 1912-1932. By all accounts it was a massive project, the castle, garrisoned by Spanish troops supporting the 'Old Pretender' Jacobite uprising, having been pounded to oblivion by three Hanoverian frigates sailing up Loch Duich in May 1719. Proper history, that.
No doubt Eilean Donan experienced an active prehistory, too, standing at the confluence of Lochs Duich, Long and Alsh, the latter a gateway to the sea via Kyle Akin. Note that a fine broch, Caisteal Grugaig, substantial remains of which still exist, overlooks the 'meeting of the lochs' from across the water to WSW. By all accounts all but a trace of Eilean Donan's Bronze Age ancestry has been buried beneath later masonry. But, needless to say men o'war could nae sink an island.