Cawdor Castle, Inverness, Scotland

Cawdor Castle, Inverness, Scotland

Where is Cawdor Castle
12 miles east of Inverness, between Inverness and Nairn on the B9090 off the A96
The home of Lord and Lady Cawdor, the castle and grounds are open from May to October 

History of Cawdor Castle
Cawdor had been an ancient Thanedom (Earldom) long before the castle was built. Set in wooded grounds, the present buildings date from the early 14th century. An entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1398 refers to an outlay on `Calder Castle'. The castle and its owners enjoyed that lawlessness that is associated with the Highlands, both the 4th and 11th Thanes were murdered

In 1454 the Thane of Calder received a royal license to build a new castle. The legend is set loose a donkey with a sack of gold on its back, and that he would build his castle when the animal wherever it first stopped to rest. The animal stopped under a holly tree above the burn. The castle was built around the tree, which can still be seen in the vaulted cellar of the keep  The Cawdor Toast is 'Flourish the Thorn!'

The present keep dates from 1454, and is typical of 15th century Scottish architecture

The entrance door, has a huge iron bolt across it, which came from nearby Lochindorb Castle around 1455 when the Thane of Cawdor was instructed to dismantle Lochindorb after it had been forfeited by the Earl of Moray.

  • When the 8th Thane of Cawdor died, his heir was an infant daughter Muriel
  • The king had apparently granted to the Earl of Argyll the right to decide whom Muriel would marry. A party of Campbells were sent to snatch the little girl. Tradition holds that her mother branded her with a key and her nurse bit off the tip of her finger for identification.
  • She was married off to the Earls third son at the age of 11, but the marriage was a happy one, and when her husband died she returned to Cawdor as Thane. She died in about 1575 having produced numerous children.
  • In about 1660 Sir Hugh Campbell, Thane of Cawdor, extensively remodelled the castle
  • For several generations the family spent most of their lives in Wales after one of them had married an heiress of lands there in the 18th century.
  • The Welsh lands have now been sold and the family have returned to Cawdor as their home.
  • In 1976 a hidden trap door was found in the drawing room, which could dispatch any unwelcome visitor straight down a chute carved within the thickness of the castle wall and into a dungeon which has no other means of entry or exit.
  • Two ghosts are said to haunt the premises, one a lady in a blue velvet dress, the other is thought to be John Campbell, the first Lord Cawdor.
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