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A thousand years of historyUrquhart Castle dominates a rocky promontory jutting into Loch Ness. That promontory has hosted some famous names in its long history.
A Pictish fortUrquhart steps into history around AD 580. St Columba was making a long journey from Iona to the court of Bridei, king of the Picts, at Inverness. As he was passing up Loch Ness, he was called to the residence of an elderly Pictish nobleman at Airdchartdan (Urquhart). Emchath was close to death, and Columba baptised him and his entire household.
A mighty medieval strongholdFrom the 13th century, until its demise in 1692, Urquhart saw much military action. In 1296 it was captured by Edward I of England ‘Hammer of the Scots’. Thereafter, the stronghold passed back and forth between Scottish and English control. In 1332, in the dark days following King Robert Bruce’s death, Urquhart remained the only Highland castle holding out against the English.
A noble ruinWhen the last soldiers marched out in 1692, they blew it up. The castle soon fell into decay. Part of the Grant Tower crashed to the ground in 1715 during a violent storm. But attitudes changed, and during the 19th century the ancient stronghold came to be viewed as a noble ruin in a majestic setting. It passed into state care in 1913, and is now one of the most visited of all Scotland’s castles.