Urquhart Castle

RS Home

Urquhart Castle is situated 18 miles south of Inverness, 17 miles north of Fort Augustus, by the village of Drumnadrochit, top area for the Loch Ness Monster information and sightings.

The Castle is open for most of the year, closing at 1800 summer, 1630 winter, with an entrance fee, only closed 25th and 26th December. Postcode: IV63 6XJ

Urquhart Castle Map Large Images

See also a large Click On Map for Top Attractions in the area.

The Image top is of the large car park and modern Visitor Centre with a Cafe, Museum, and Cinema that shows a short video of the Castle history.



You can explore all around the Castle, climb the Tower, go down to the Beach, and read a number of Notice Boards that give information on the different sections of the Castle and how they were used.

This is the area where most sightings of the Loch Ness Monster have been, so have your camera ready should she pass by while you are there. The Loch Ness Monster became world famous after a sighting of her in 1933.

If you fail to see Nessie, there is the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre 2 miles north with information on her, with a monster replica in a pond by the car park, a good photo spot.

Urquhart Castle History

400s? - a Wooden Pictish Fort was on this site, at the high point on the south side of the present Castle.

500s - St Columba visited the area in an attempt to spread Christianity throughout Scotland. Little is known about religion of the Picts before St Columba.

1100s late & early 1200s - the MacWilliams from this area rebelled against the Kings.

1229 - King Alexander II granted the lands of Urquhart to his loyal supporter Thomas de Lundin. Lundin's death a few years later led to the Castle passing to his son Alan Durward, who is said to have built the earliest parts of the Urquhart Castle seen today.

1275 - Alan Durward died, leading to the Castle passing to John II Comyn, Lord of Badenoch.

1296 - Urquhart Castle was captured by Edward I of England at the beginning of the Wars of Scottish Independence. King Alexander III of Scotland had died without leaving an heir, leading to Scottish Nobles fighting amongst themselves to see who would become King.

The English invaded Scotland so they could support a King of Scotland that was under their control.

The three main Families in line for the role of Scots King were Balliol, Bruce, and Comyn.

1298 - Urquhart was taken back by the Scots.

1303 - the English re-took the Castle, putting Alexander Comyn in charge.

1306 - Robert the Bruce murdered John Comyn at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries / south Scotland. Bruce was then crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey.

1307 - Robert the Bruce and his forces moved north taking the castles of Inverlochy, Urquhart, and Inverness.

1314 - The Scots victory at Bannockburn led to the end of the first Independence War with England, leading to Urquhart Castle becoming a Royal Castle, looked after by a number of Keepers, families loyal to the King.

1342 - King David II used Urquhart for a hunting trip, the only King to have stayed at the Castle.

1395 to 1476 - the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, took control of Urquhart Castle on a few occasions as they rebelled against Kings.

1476 - King James III awarded control of Urquhart Castle to his loyal supporter, George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly.

1509 - King James IV awarded the Grants control of Urquhart with the task of keeping the MacDonald's under control. Over the following 20 years, a number of battles took place between the Grants and the MacDonald's, and their allies the Camerons.

The Grants eventually took control of the area, building much of the Castle seen today.

1600s early - Castle Grant and Ballindalloch Castle became the main residence of the Grants, leading to Urquhart Castle being run down.

1644 - a mob of Covenanters broke into Urquhart Castle and robbed Lady Mary Grant.

1647 - Urquhart Castle was noted as being virtually empty.

1688 - the First Jacobite Rising began after James VII Stuart was deposed by his Protestant daughter Mary Stuart and her husband William of Orange. James had been accused of being a Catholic with strong connections to France.

The Grant's opposed the Jacobite's, using 200 of their own soldiers to defend Urquhart Castle for Mary and William.

About 500 Jacobite's laid siege to the Castle, with the Grant's holding out until the Jacobite's were forced to give up their fight in 1690, with James Stuart having to live in exile in France.

1692 - as the Soldiers left Urquhart Castle, they blew up the Gatehouse to prevent Jacobite's from using the Castle in future Risings.

The following years saw locals plunder the Castle for building materials such a wood, lead, and stone for farms and houses.

1715 - parts of the Grant Tower collapsed during a storm.

1770s - the Grants began building the town of Grantown-on-Spey, about 40 miles east of Urquhart where their Castle Grant is situated.

1770s - Urquhart Castle was noted as being roofless.

1745 / 1746 - during the third and final Jacobite Rising, Grants fought on both sides.

1800s - the Castle Ruins became popular with the first tourists to Scotland, especially with artists.

1913 - Historic Scotland took control of the Castle so it could be maintained as a tourist attraction.

1998 - a new Visitor Centre and larger Car Park were built to accommodate the increasing number of tourists to the Castle, now one of the most visited Castles in Scotland.

Today - some of the larger Loch Ness Tour Boats dock at the Castle, allowing tourists the opportunity to explore the Castle, and cruise Loch Ness in search of the Monster on the one trip.

Official Website:
historicenvironment.scot

RS Home Page






Urquhart Castle Photos