Notes: A major tourist destination there is a large car park immediately adjacent to the visitor centre.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Extensive remains of a medieval castle set in some stunning scenery on the banks of Loch Ness. Clearly a major tourist destination this castle is extremely well presented and is accompanied by an excellent visitor centre that includes an interesting video, exhibits and a large shop.
1. Although a Royal castle for much of its history, only one Scottish King ever stayed at Urquhart - David II in 1342.
Situated on the banks of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle has for centuries played an important role in the control of a key route through the Scottish Highlands. Built in the thirteenth century it changed hands several times during the Wars of Independence, witnessed violent clan rivalry and withstood Jacobite uprisings.
HISTORY OF URQUHART CASTLE
In the sixth century Urquhart was home to Bridei, King of the Picts and in AD 580 was visited by St. Columba who brought Christianity to the region. Although it cannot be certain that this Pictish residence was indeed on the site of the current castle, some archaeological evidence supports it and the superb geographical position would have made it an ideal location.
The first known castle was built by the Durward family around the 1230s after they were granted permission to do so by the Scottish King, Alexander II. In 1296 the Wars of Independence started and Urquhart Castle was seized by the English. However, following the defeat of the English army at Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, the garrison at Urquhart either abandoned or surrendered the castle. But in 1303 Edward I invaded again and once more took Urquhart and this time the castle was held until Robert the Bruce's campaign in Northern Scotland in 1308. Thereafter the castle remained a Royal (Scottish) castle until 1509 when it was granted to Clan Grant. This brought it into the frontline as clan warfare broke out between the MacDonalds and the Grants culminating in the 'Great Raid' of 1545 where Urquhart was stripped of virtually everything of value.
The castle played no notable role during the War of Three Kingdoms other than being stormed by a band of Covenanters on Christmas Day 1644 who were protesting at the Grants’ support to King Charles I. During Cromwell's invasion of Scotland in the 1650s the castle was eclipsed by new fortifications at Fort William and Inverness whilst Loch Ness itself was patrolled by a Naval force. The castle was last garrisoned in 1689 when James VII fled in the wake of the Glorious Revolution. The Government force withstood the subsequent Jacobite uprisings but in 1692 blew up key sections of the castle to prevent it being used as a military base again.