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Castles of Great Britain: Volume Two [Secure eReader]
eBook by Linda Lee

eBook Category: History/Travel
eBook Description: Continuing our exploration of castles from volume one, this book features a further 30 examples of fortresses throughout Britain, including some of Scotland's famous landmarks. Some now survive merely as romantic ruins, whilst others continue to dominate the surrounding area as ancestral homes to the modern nobility. Each article comprises a colour photograph, an historical overview, and an information panel containing opening times, grid reference, address, telephone number, and web site details (where applicable) NB--This title is not suitable for use with 'Adobe Reader for PalmOS'. Please select either our Palm reader or Mobipocket Reader versions, when using PalmOS devices

eBook Publisher: Heritage Trail Publications Ltd/Heritage Trail Publications Ltd
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2004


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Urquart Castle

Records show that a castle has stood on this rocky promontory on the northern banks of Loch Ness since the thirteenth century, but there is some evidence to suggest that this site may have been inhabited 700 years earlier. It is an ideal site for a fortress, surrounded on three sides by the deep waters of the Loch and easily defendable from the landward side, and with extensive views of any unwelcome approaches.

First mentioned c1230, when the lordship was granted to Alan Durward after Alexander II had crushed a northern uprising, Urquhart Castle has witnessed a chequered past. Although Alan managed to retain his estates for nearly half a century, they quickly fell into the hands of King Edward after his first invasion of Scotland. The castle was regained briefly by the Scots until Edward I invaded for a second time in 1303, but it was eventually in Scottish hands by 1308 under the rule of Robert the Bruce. Under Crown ownership, the castle was well maintained during the period of reasonable calm in the fourteenth century. When the Lords of the Western Isles (the Macdonalds) laid claim to the Kingdom of Ross in 1390, Urquhart Castle was again at the centre of the warring factions. By 1479 the Glen had been devastated, and the castle was in a state of disrepair.

Back in the hands of the Crown, the castle was leased to Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie, whose heirs continued to live at Urquhart and successfully maintained order in the Glen until 1513. Following King James IV's death at Flodden, the Macdonalds again stormed the Glen and the castle, and took control for a further three years. Relative peace returned for almost thirty years but, in 1545, the Macdonalds made one final foray into Urquhart Glen. Major repairs where carried out by the Grants after the siege and, at the same time, the familiar Tower House was built as their private residence. By the turn of the century, the antiquated Urquhart Castle was no longer used on a regular basis, the Lords preferring to find more modern comfortable residences in other locations.

The Civil War passed almost unnoticed at the castle, except for occasional looting, but it was garrisoned for the last time in 1689 during the Jacobite uprising. Some 200 men held the castle for William and Mary but, when they left three years later, many of the buildings had been blown up. Despite Grant's strong complaint against this action, the castle was never repaired. As the remains deteriorated, the locals robbed the site of any valuable materials, and within a relatively short time the castle and its bloody history came to an end.

Now a beautifully haunting ruin, situated within some of the finest scenery in the Highlands, Urquhart Castle presents one of most evocative images of Scotland today. Approached from the west via a drawbridge and gatehouse, the site is roughly oval in plan, with an Upper (or outer) Bailey to the south, and an Inner Bailey of later construction to the north. Little survives of the Upper Bailey above foundation level, although evidence suggests that this was where the original fortifications for Alan Durward were erected. All the accommodation and domestic buildings, familiar to medieval castles, are found within the Inner Bailey. Fragments of the sixteenth century east range, comprising a Great Hall, chambers, and kitchen, stand precariously close to the...


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