Sitting next to the beautiful and mysterious Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle has had many owners and seen many battles.It was a medieval stronghold for over 500 years. The Scots and the English fought over the castle’s control during the Wars of Independence and the Lords of the Isles raided the castle well into the 16th Century.
Pictish Noblemen made Urquhart their home from AD 500s to the 800s. It was known as Airdchartdan. Evidence, such as a brooch, of Pictish artifacts suggests that the site was used by noble Picts.
After centuries of fighting, the castle was left in ruins, until Clan Grant was given the castle in exchange for its repair. As a reward for supporting the monarchy against the MacDonalds. No longer a fortress, the castle became a wealthy residence, with the tower being the equivalent of the lairds holiday home. The Grants built a tower house that they stayed in during the warmer months, going hunting and feasting. In the Winter, they travelled to more pleasant climates in the lowlands.
The castle was taken by the English in 1296, by Edward I, known as Hammer of the Scots. Control of the castle was passed from English to Scot and back again for many years. Robert the Bruce became King of Scots in 1306 and controlled the castle during Scotland’s fight for independence.
The MacDonald Clan ransacked Urquhart, trying to gain power, wealth and supplies. On one raid they took everything they could get their hands on, including 3 boats, 20 guns and even the mattresses.
The castle was partly blown up by the owners during the Jacobite Risings so that it could never be used as a military stronghold again.