U is for Urquhart Castle
Today we travel to Scotland
Urquhart Castle, Inverness
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
Urquhart Castle is sited on Strone Point, a triangular promontory on the north-western shore of Loch Ness, in the Highlands of Scotland, 21 kilometres (13 miles) South-West of Inverness and 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) East of the village of Drumnadrochit.
The castle was built on the site of an early medieval fortification and the present ruins date from 13th – 16th centuries.
It played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence during the 14th Century and was held as a royal castle and raided on many occasions by the MacDonald Earls of Ross.
In 1509 the castle was granted to the Clan Grant but the conflict with the MacDonalds continued. The castle was strengthened but was abandoned by the middle of the 17th Century. In 1692 it was partially destroyed to prevent its use by Jacobite forces and subsequently fell into decay.
In the 20th Century the castle was placed in state care and was opened to the public and it now one of the most visited castles in Scotland.
The castle is one of the largest in Scotland in actual area and is situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness. It was approached from the West and defended by a ditch and a drawbridge. The buildings of the castle were laid out around two main enclosures on the shore. The Northern enclosure or Nether Bailey included most of the intact structures, the gatehouse and the five-storey Grant Tower at the North end of the castle.
The Nether Bailey, showing the gatehouse (left), Grant Tower, hall range (right), and the foundation of the chapel in the centre
View from the motte showing the location of the drawbridge, with the remains of the gatehouse on the right
The Grant Tower viewed from Loch Ness
Loch Ness cuts a great divide along what is called Glen Mor, or The Great Glen, a 60 mile fissure scoured by glaciers during the last ice age. The Loch itself is over 700 feet deep, and the nearby surrounding hills rise by about the same amount. At the North East end, where the waters of the loch flow along the River Ness through Inverness and into the North Sea, is the flatter and more fertile land of Moray.
By the 1770s the castle was roofless and was regarded as a romantic ruin by 19th century painters and visitors to the Highlands. In 1884 the castle came under the control of Caroline, Dowager Countess of Seafield who was the widow of the 7th Earl of Seafield on the death of her son the 8th Earl. On Lady Seafield’s death in 1911 whose will instructed that Urquhart Castle be entrusted in to state care. It is now cared for by Historic Scotland and is a category A Listed Building and a scheduled monument in recognition of its national significance.
The castle is open all year and can also host wedding ceremonies. In 2011 it was the third most visited site after the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling.
Jacobite Warrior approaching Urquhart Castle Loch Ness
A romantic sail by ferry down the loch
A secret monster, what poppycock
Urquhart Castle came into view
An image of blood and goo
Fierce Scottish clansmen fighting bravely
Swords and kilts flowing freely
She shook her head back to reality
As she listened to the talk about the Bailey
So many historic sites to take in
She looked at her husband, Jim
25 years of history they shared
A journey of long lasting love declared
Tonight the bagpipes special sound
Sent tingles and shivers all around
The mist rolling in from the water
An ambience to treasure and never alter