Under Siege at Urquhart Castle
1 June 2009
The dark days and dramatic events of the 17th century are revisited at Urquhart Castle on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th June when the formidable stronghold overlooking the waters of Loch Ness once again comes under siege.
Visitors will be taken back to the mid-1640s to witness how the opposing forces of Highlanders and Lowlanders, Covenanters and Royalists battled for control of the strategically-located medieval fortress.
The Historic Scotland ‘Under Siege’ event gives visitors the opportunity to tour the castle’s defences and besiegers’ camp, meet characters from both sides and hear why each was so committed to their cause. And there’s also a chance to learn about the fearsome weaponry of the period – the pikes, muskets, swords and cannons – and experience their might first-hand.
Nick Finnigan, Historic Scotland events manager, said: “Urquhart was fought over repeatedly through the centuries, and the castle played a key role in Scotland’s struggle for independence. Our ‘Under Siege’ event - which is being staged by acclaimed re-enactment group Fraser’s Dragoones - aims to shed light on why this was and what made opposing sides so determined to control it during this crucial and turbulent period in our country’s history.
‘Under Siege’ takes place from 12.00 noon to 4pm on both the 6th and 7th. Tickets (priced adult £7.00, child £3.50, concession £5.00, and Historic Scotland Members free) are available on the day or can be bought online in advance to beat the queues at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shop
or calling 0131 668 8830.
Notes for editors
- Urquhart Castle is near Drumnadrochit on the A82. Tel: 01456 450551.
- Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart overlooks the water of Loch Ness and is surrounded by stunning Highland scenery. Visitors to the castle can see the five-storey Grant Tower which once provided accommodation for the lords and their families and gives magnificent views of Loch Ness. There are also the remains of kitchens, the gatehouse, cellars and other buildings. The castle’s history is told in an exhibition and audio-visual display in its superb visitor centre where medieval artefacts discovered on site are also on show.
- Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 13th to 17th centuries was particularly bloody. Following Edward I’s invasion, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 14th century, it figured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles.
- Urquhart’s history and that of the noble families – Durward, MacDonald and Grant – who held it, is told in the exhibition and audio-visual display in the castle’s visitor centre. Visitors can relax in the café and visit the shop with its local crafts. Stunning views of the loch can be obtained from visitor centre veranda.
- Urquhart Castle is amongst over 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites are in the care of Historic Scotland. Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae and the Border Abbeys. For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.
- Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.