Dunscaith Castle

Castle in Isle of Skye

Dunscaith Castle also known as Dun Scaich, Dun Sgathaich Castle and Tokavaig, is a ruined castle on the coast of the Isle of Skye, in the north-west of Scotland. It is located in the Parish of Sleat, in the Highland council area, and in the former county of Inverness-shire.  The castle stands on a rock about 40 feet high, some 20 feet from the mainland.

Visiting  Dunscaith Castle

The ruins can be reached by crossing the road bridge into Skye on the A87 towards Broadford, then turning left onto the A851 Ardvasar road. Turn right at the signs to Ord and Tokavaig. The castle is then reached via a track leading to 2 properties some 300 metres away and a sign is attached to the main gate. The castle cannot be accessed as the drawbridge is long gone and the gap has a 40 foot drop, take care! There is no charge, and views are spectacular on a clear day. Not much of the structure is left but the stairway that led up into the castle can still be seen rising from the arched access bridge, and a small portion of the curtain wall is visible.

History of Dunscaith Castle

The castle itself sits on an off-shore rock. The rock rises 40 feet (12 metres) above sea level and there is a gap of 20 feet (6 metres) between the rock and the mainland. The gap was once spanned by a walled bridge with arches six feet (1.8 metres) apart. This stone walled bridge then led onto a drawbridge, the pivot holes for which are still visible on the far side. Once on the other side of the drawbridge a door opened to a flight of stairs which was also sided by two walls. The flight of stairs led up to the castle.

Parts of the castle curtain wall still survive on the cliff edge but most of the inner buildings have gone. The curtain wall was about five feet (1.5 metres) thick. In the courtyard is a well and the remains of a stairway which once led up a tower.

Originally the castle belonged to the Clan MacDonald of Sleat, a branch of the Clan Donald or MacDonald. At some time in the 14th century it was taken from them by the Clan MacLeod and held briefly by the MacAskills, allies of the MacLeods but it was recaptured by the MacDonalds sometime in the 15th century.

In the 15th century the castle was again captured by King James IV of Scotland when the Chief of the Clan Donald, Lord of the Isles was broken by King James IV. The MacDonalds were allowed to keep possession of the castle. The MacDonalds abandoned the castle in the early 17th century, after which it slowly fell into ruin.

Legend of Dunscaith Castle

Dunscaith gets its name from Sgathae, a legendary Queen in the days of Fingal. The castle is featured in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology and is the place where Scáthach the Shadow, legendary Scottish warrior woman and martial arts teacher, trained the hero Cú Chulainn in the arts of combat. The Irish name for the fort, Dun Scathiag, is derived from hers.

The Dunscaith Castle appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Isle of Skye!

This website uses affiliate links which may earn a commission at no additional cost to you!

Visiting Dunscaith Castle


24 Hours



Address: Sleat Peninsula, Tokavaig, Isle of Skye, Western Isles, Scotland
Duration: 1 hours

Nearby Attractions

Tours and Activities from Isle of Skye