Urquhart Castle When you think of the word monster, Loch Ness comes immediately to mind, and for those of you who are more historically and geographically astute, Urquhart Castle.
On approach to this site, the visitor may be pleasantly surprised by the fact that they are not looking upwards at a massive stone fortification, but rather the whole vista of the site is laid out below them.
In medieval times castle building was not an exact science and no doubt many mistakes were made along the way. Urquhart castles situation resolves two problems; first, the sandstone promontory on which the castle rests gives a commanding view of the length and breadth of the loch. Second, the castle stands guard to the entrance to the rich and fertile area of Glen Urquhart.
Originally, the site was occupied by a Pictish fort, perhaps one amongst many controlled by Brude, King of the Picts.It is possible to find quantities of vitrified stone left from the Iron age when it was believed to be a dry stone fort interlaced with timbers.
A castle was in evidence at the time of King William the Lion in the 12th century; however, the remains we see today were laid down by Alan Durward in 1229, originally consisted of an enclosure with a curtain wall and gatehouse and included a hall and chapel.
The history of Urquhart castle is not a happy one:
In 1296 the castle was taken by Edward I of England, the Scots retaliated twice, recapturing the castle.
In 1303, following a lengthy siege, the English regained possession only to lose it again in1308 when Robert the Bruce kicked them out.
In 1333 David II fought off another intrusion by Edward Balliol and Edward the II.
In 1437 the castle was taken by the Earl of Ross.
The postman may well have been forgiven for asking the question of who was in residence that day before delivering the mail!
In 1476 another bout of exchanges took place when the castle was ceded to the Gordon Earls of Huntly.
In 1509 James IV transferred the deeds to John Grant of Freuchie with the proviso that he reinforced the property.
Following the death of James IV at Flodden, the MacDonaldís took the castle in 1515 and again in 1545 along with the Cameronís of Locheil.
The Covenanters ransacked the place in 1644.
In 1689, the castle withstood an assault by Jacobite forces.
In 1691, Urquhart castle was dismantled and remains a ruin to this day.