Urquhart castle is dramatically sited on the shores of Loch Ness, famous as the home of ‘Nessie’, a mythical sea monster who haunts the loch. It was, at one time, one of the largest castles in Scotland. Now in ruins, the castle’s five storey tower house still makes its presence known as it offers views over the Great Glen.
Go Back: [Top of Page] [Articles
There is evidence of a prehistoric fort on the site of Urquhart castle. The castle saw much action during its 500 years as a fortress spanning the time from the 13th-17th centuries. The castle lands were first granted to the Durward family in 1230. During the 13th century the English took control of the castle only to lose it and later capture it again.
Robert the Bruce took the castle in 1308, but it then changed hands four times in 12 years. The crown, now owning it, leased the castle to Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie, and his successors kept it until 1513. The Macdonalds, Lords of the Isles, led many a raid on the castle and took ownership from the Grants. The tower house was constructed in the late 16th century. In 1545 and 1644 the castle was plundered, and in 1689 parts of the castle were blown up. By the 1715 rising it was a ruin. It was plundered for building stone over the ensuing years.
The gatehouse, on the land side of the castle, led to a double bailey courtyard. To the right of the gatehouse a Norman motte was encircled by walls. A domestic range of buildings was sited beyond the water gate. The castle’s inner bailey was the site of the great hall, chambers, kitchens, and chapel.
Urquhart castle is on Loch Ness on the A82 near Drumnadrochit, 13 miles south of Inverness.
Tel. 0 1456 450 551
Open: April-Sep, daily, 9.30am-6pm; Oct, daily, 9.30am-5pm; Nov-end March, daily, 9.30am-4.30pm; closed 25, 26 Dec; open New Year’s Day, 11am-4pm; last admission 45 minutes before closing
Historic Scotland property; large tower style visitor centre; parking extensive; self serve restaurant; shop; introductory film; exhibition; handicap accessible
Note: The castle attracts massive crowds and large numbers of bus tours. If you can go out of tourist season or first thing in the morning, you will enjoy the experience much more.