Thursday, 24 April 2014

U is for Urquhart Castle


U is for Urquhart Castle


Today we travel to Scotland


Urquhart Castle, Inverness

Castle Urquhart
Loch Ness
(Pronounced "urk'at")
About this sound listen 


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
                                            Wikimedia Commons               

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



  1. ... Castle and all the places you have shown us. You are an informative teacher and travel guide and a clever poet. Thanks for dropping by my blog again

  2. I've always been fascinated by Loch Ness and I didn't even know there was a castle there. All the places you have shown us inspire new story settings.