Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle – The Jaw-dropping Castle On The Bank Of Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness is a historic Scottish Highlands site overlooking the famous Loch Ness. The castle ruins date back to the 13th century and have a rich and fascinating history. The Castle was once a stronghold for the Scottish Crown and was involved in many battles between the Scots and the English.

Today, Urquhart Castle Loch Ness is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors worldwide. The Castle ruins offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the Loch Ness, famous for its legendary monster, Nessie. Visitors can explore the castle ruins and learn about its history through various exhibits and interactive displays. The site also offers boat tours of Loch Ness, providing a unique perspective of the Castle and the surrounding area.

Urquhart Castle View

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History of Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is a historic fortress located on the banks of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The Castle is believed to have been built in the 13th century, although the exact date of its construction is unknown. The Castle was strategically located on a rocky promontory overlooking the loch and was an important stronghold for the Scottish clans in the region.

St Columba may have visited the site of the Castle in 565AD while he was in the area visiting a Pictish fort. It is impossible to say for sure whether this was the case. In any case, the Great Glen and northern Scotland would have been controlled by a Pictish settlement at the time.

A castle had stood on this site since the 13th century when the people of Moray uprised against King Alexander II. The King established a stronghold in Urquhart after his son-in-law, Alan Durward, crushed the rebellion.

After Alan Durward died in 1275, John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, acquired Urquhart Castle. In the following centuries, the Castle’s ownership frequently passed between the English and Scottish crowns, marking the beginning of a turbulent era.

As a result, a new conflict emerged at the end of the 14th century. The Scottish Crown was now responsible for defending itself from the Macdonalds, Lords of the Isles. George Gordon, the 2nd Earl of Huntly, brought some order to the Castle after 150 years of ownership switching between the two sides.

In 1689, a small garrison supporting William and Mary’s Protestant monarchy held off a more significant Jacobite force at Urquhart Castle, putting the Castle to rest. Later that year, the English Garrison left the Castle, destroying it to prevent the Jacobites from using it as a base.

Role in the Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, Urquhart Castle played a significant role in the conflict. The Castle was captured and recaptured by both the Scots and the English several times and was the site of several battles and sieges.

16th to 17th Century Decline

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Urquhart Castle fell into disrepair and was largely abandoned. The Castle was used as a quarry for building materials, and many of its stones were taken to construct nearby buildings.

Ghosts of Urquhart Castle

20th Century Restoration and Preservation

In the early 20th century, efforts were made to restore and preserve Urquhart Castle. The Castle was declared a scheduled monument in 1921 and was later acquired by the Scottish Government in 2001. Today, the Castle is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can explore its ruins and learn about its fascinating history.

Urquhart Castle At Loch Ness

Geography and Position on Loch Ness

The Castle is located in the Scottish Highlands near the village of Drumnadrochit, 21 km southwest of Inverness. It sits on a rocky peninsula that juts out into the loch, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The location of Urquhart Castle is perhaps the most famous because it sits on the bank of Loch Ness. I did not even know there was a castle at Loch Ness until I visited it.

Surrounding Landscape

The Castle is surrounded by rugged hills and forests, which provide a picturesque backdrop to its ruins. The area is known for its natural beauty, and visitors can enjoy hiking and biking trails that wind through the nearby countryside. The loch is a popular boating and fishing destination, and visitors can take boat tours to explore the lake and search for the legendary Loch Ness Monster.

Architecture of Urquhart Castle

The Castle has a rectangular layout with a central courtyard used for various purposes, such as a market, a place for social gatherings, and a livestock pen. Urquhart’s walled portion is roughly shaped like an eight-aligned northeast-southwes. There are two enclosures (baileys): the Nether Bailey to the north and the Upper Bailey to the south. Many of the remaining structures in both enclosures date to the 14th century, although they have been greatly augmented by later construction, especially to the north.

Defensive Structures

The Castle had defensive structures such as walls, towers, and gates. The walls were constructed with thick stone blocks, and the towers were strategically placed to provide a clear view of the surrounding area. The Castle had two main gates, the Portcullis Gate and the Drawbridge Gate, which were used to control access to the Castle. It also has a trebuchet, aka a slingshot, that’s largely intact.

Prison Cell At Urquhart Castle

Residential Areas

The Castle had several residential areas, such as the Great Hall, the Kitchen, and the Living Quarters. The Great Hall was the largest room in the Castle and was used for banquets, meetings, and other social gatherings. The kitchen was next to the Great Hall, with fireplaces and ovens to prepare food. The Living Quarters were situated on the Castle’s upper floors and were used by the lord and his family.

What’s Left Of The Great Hall:

Ghosts Of Urquhart Castle

According to legend, Urquhart Castle is haunted by the ghost of Lady Margaret, also known as the White Lady. A member of the family, she was the daughter. Her father’s objection prevented her from marrying a man from the wrong clan. Her distraught led her to climb the tower and jump from the top. The caves beneath the Castle are also said to be home to Loch Ness Monster colonies. 

Cultural Significance Of Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness has played a significant role in literature and media. The castle ruins have been featured in various novels and movies, including the famous Loch Ness monster legend. They have also been used as a backdrop in films such as “Loch Ness” (1996) and “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (1970). The castle ruins have also been mentioned in various books, including “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Loch Ness Monster

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness is steeped in myths and legends, the most famous of which is the Loch Ness Monster, also known as “Nessie.” The monster is said to inhabit the depths of Loch Ness and has been a subject of fascination for centuries.

The legendary Loch Ness Monster, as recorded by Robert Wilson. Wilson Keystone Getty Images

The legendary Loch Ness Monster, as recorded by Robert Wilson. Wilson Keystone Getty Images.

The Loch Ness Monster is often associated with Urquhart Castle, as many sightings of the creature have been reported in its vicinity. According to legend, the monster was first sighted in the 6th century by Saint Columba, who is said to have encountered it on a mission to convert the Picts to Christianity.

Since then, there have been numerous sightings of the monster, with many people claiming to have seen it from the ramparts of Urquhart Castle. Although no concrete evidence supports the monster’s existence, many people still believe in its existence, and it remains a popular tourist attraction.

I never got to see Nessie! Maybe you will when you visit.

Visiting Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is open to visitors year-round, varying hours depending on the season. From April to September, the Castle is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; from October to March, it opens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors should note that the last admission is one hour before closing.

The Castle is accessible to visitors with disabilities, with designated parking spaces and accessible paths throughout the site. However, due to the castle’s historic nature, some areas may be inaccessible.

Visitors to Urquhart Castle can explore the ruins and learn about the Castle’s history through exhibitions and audio-visual displays. Guided tours are also available for an additional fee.

Facilities on-site include a gift shop and a café serving light refreshments. Visitors should note that restrooms are not available within the castle ruins but in the visitor center.

Admission fees vary depending on the season, with discounts available for children, seniors, and families. Visitors can purchase tickets online or at the on-site ticket office. Audio guides are available in multiple languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.

Tours To Urquhart Castle

Frequently Asked Questions

Who currently owns Urquhart Castle?

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is owned by the Scottish Government and is managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

Can you provide a brief history of Urquhart Castle?

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is a medieval fortress that dates back to the 13th century. Strategically located on Loch Ness’s banks, it played an essential role in the conflicts between the Scottish and English armies. The Castle was destroyed in the late 17th century, and the ruins have been preserved as a historical landmark.

Is there a connection between Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Monster?

The legendary Loch Ness Monster, as recorded by Robert Wilson. Wilson Keystone Getty Images

Urquhart Castle is located on the banks of Loch Ness and is famous for its alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. While there is no direct connection between the Castle and the monster, the Castle offers a great vantage point for visitors to spot the elusive creature.

How can one obtain tickets to visit Urquhart Castle?

Urquhart Castle At Loch Ness

Tickets to Urquhart Castle can be purchased online or at the ticket office. It is recommended that tickets be booked in advance to avoid long queues.

What tour options are available at Urquhart Castle?

The Trebuchet aka Sling Shot

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Castle or join a guided tour led by a knowledgeable guide. Audio guides are also available in multiple languages.

What are the entry prices for Urquhart Castle?

Urquhart Castle At Loch Ness

The entry prices for Urquhart Castle vary depending on the ticket type and the visitor’s age. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and families. Check the official website for the latest prices and deals.

What is unique about Urquhart Castle?

Urquhart Castle View 2

Urquhart has a lot of history. The English took it as one of their great castles when they invaded in 1296. During the later Middle Ages, the Lords of the Isles repeatedly captured the Castle to expand their territory.

Can you see Urquhart Castle without paying?

Urquhart Castle View

You can see the Castle from the opposite side of the loch, above the entry point, or on the water. However, you cannot see any of its interior without paying.

What was filmed at Urquhart Castle?

Urquhart Castle View 2

The following films were filmed at Urquhart Castle: Rob Roy (1996), Loch Ness (1996), Centurion (2010), and A Lonely Place To Die (2011). In addition, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, a 1970 classic Sherlock Holmes, was filmed at Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness.

Closing Thoughts

Urquhart Castle’s stunning views and rich history make it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Scottish Highlands. The castle ruins offer a glimpse into Scotland’s rich history and culture and breathtaking views of Loch Ness and the surrounding countryside. Almost every visitor to the highlands makes their way to Loch Ness, so you would be crazy not to visit Urquhart Castle.

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