It is the most photographed castle in Scotland, and has been featured in blockbuster films from Highlander to James Bond.

But for many years Eilean Donan castle did not look as it does now, and this year marks 300 years since the fateful battle which left the castle in ruins after destruction by the British during the Jacobite rising.

Two hundred years later work began on restoring Eilean Donan to its former glory by John MacRae-Gilstrap of Clan MacRae.

Sitting between the three sea lochs of Loch Long, Loch Alsh, and Loch Duich, the castle was used as a stronghold by Spanish invaders during the uprising in a bid to restore James Stuart, son of James IV of Scotland, to the throne.

The castle was under heavy bombardment from British naval ships for several days and, eventually, after barrels of gunpowder were set alight, the Eilean Donan was demolished and would not be lived in for over 200 years.

Dr Iain MacInnes is an expert in medieval Scotland from the University of the Highlands and Islands. He spoke about how the castle has had a long history of importance to Scotland:

“It is perhaps its location that makes it 'special', on the road to Skye, and regularly voted as one of Scotland’s most picturesque castles. There is little doubting its 'romantic' location and its general setting.

“The fact that a castle appears to have existed in some form on this site from the very early middle ages suggests that it was situated at an important strategic location.

“Its access to the sea meant it would likely have acted not just as a castle, but also as a harbour for ships connected to the ruling families in the area, from which they could project their sea power over the region.

“This was an important part of lordship in this region, where travel by water was probably more important than travel by land. It's likely 13th-century origins also relate to providing defence in depth against Scandinavian raids and incursions in a period when Scoto-Norse relations were not good.

Dr MacInnes also says that, as with many of Scotland’s Castles, Robert the Bruce may have paid a visit as part of his conquest of Scotland.

“Clan history suggests that Robert the Bruce stayed at Eilean Donan in 1306-7 on his flight westwards following his defeat at the battle of Methven,” he said.

“There is no corroborative evidence for this, however, and the temptation to be associated with the 'warrior king' is quite a strong one in many clan histories, so this might well come under the heading of 'myth'.

“And, as with many Scottish castles, there is the ghost of a mysterious lady also associated with it. Scottish folklore has a lot to answer for.

"There is even a suggestion of a Matheson (who were constables of the castle for a time) being able to speak to birds. Make of that what you will.

“Its last hurrah in the Jacobite uprising of 1719 is a pretty spectacular way to go out!”

Between 1919 and 1932, work began on the rebuilding of Eilean Donan by Lieutenant-Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap. As well as adding the famous footbridge to connect the island to the mainland, the castle itself was restored to stand just as it had done for hundreds of years before its destruction.

Now, visitors from all over Scotland and the world come to visit it, take pictures and even marry there, cementing its status as a Scottish cultural icon.

Clan Mackenzie, along with Clan Macrae, has a special affinity with the castle, as it was the stronghold of the Clan for many years. A committee member of the Clan Mackenzie Society spoke about the clan's long association with the fortress: “It seems reasonably clear that the Mackenzies had lost control of Eilean Donan in the first half of the 14th century,” they said.

“Then, following a long exile on the part of the chief, Murdoch Dubh, he finally seems likely to have recovered the family’s power base in a purported Royal Charter of 1362 – which was purported to have been further confirmed in 1414 to his son in a grant from the Exchequer.

“Because of the Mackenzies' power-base in this region it was chosen as the landing place for the Jacobite invasion, which was aided by Spanish troops but defeated in the glen near the castle by the English General Wightman.

“The Mackenzie chief, William Dubh (or “Black William”), the 5th Earl and 2nd Jacobite Marquis of Seaforth, played a heroic role in this rising before being wounded and carried across the mountains (the ridge of the Five Sisters of Kintail) to exile and safety.

“The MacRaes also played an important role in the history of the castle, since they are a local clan who were the traditional bodyguards of the Mackenzie chief and their own chiefs had been the hereditary constables of Eilean Donan and were consequently dubbed ‘Mackenzie’s Shirt-of-Mail’.”