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Castles and Historic Buildings of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland

 Castles of Scotland - Urquhart Castle

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near Strone, Highland, Scotland

Urquhart Castle is located on a headland overlooking Loch Ness in Scotland, near the village of Drumnadrochit (between Fort William and Inverness). It was one of the largest castles in medieval Scotland. Urquhart Castle is made up of two courtyards joined together in a roughly figure of eight shape, aligned north-east to south-west along the bank of Loch Ness. The main gatehouse is on the inland side in the narrow central portion of the figure of eight. There is also a smaller gate on the Loch side that was used to used for access by ship. The northern section has remains of the main five storey tower with castellated wall. The western side of the tower collapsed in the early 18th century, but the remaining sections can be accessed via a circular staircase built into one corner of the tower. The upper floors of the tower are gone. Below the tower are the Great Hall and other ruins including a chapel. The southern section is located on a small hill of about 5m high, and all buildings in this area are in ruins.

A visitor centre opened in 2002 with shop, cafe, audio-visual displays and model showing what the castle looked like before it fell into ruin. The Castle is open all year, and is also available for hosting weddings.

A castle has existed on the site from the early 13th century. The castle was probably built by the Durward family. It was captured by Edward I of England in 1296, and changed hands between the Scots and English over the next few years. The castle was captured in the mid-fifteenth century by the Earl of Ross, but recovered again shortly afterwards. In 1509 it was given to the Grants, who owned the castle for 400 years until 1912. The MacDonalds captured the castle in 1545. It was also captured by a Covenanter force in 1644. The castle was largely destroyed in 1692 by troops loyal to William and Mary, to prevent Jacobite forces taking it as a stronghold. The castle was never repaired and remained as a ruin. The castle further decayed as stonework was plundered for local building. The castle was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 2003 and is run by Historic Scotland.

Urquhart Castle is one of the locations where sightings of the Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) have been reported.

Other Castles in the Area
  Castle Stuart, Highland
  Inverness Castle, Highland
  Moniack Castle, Highland

Moniack Castle
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

Photograph by Roger Kidd. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Moniack Castle
Urquhart Castle

Photograph by David Dixon. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Moniack Castle
Urquhart Castle looking North East along Loch Ness

Photograph by Paul Allison. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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