An internationally recognised landmark, Urquhart Castle stands on a small headland above the shore of Loch Ness. It’s perfectly placed to command a spectacular view of the famous loch.
Though it was originally one of the largest castles in Scotland, only parts of it are still standing, but they are very atmospheric. It was probably built around the middle of the 13th century, though there may have been an earlier large fort on the site. The name ‘Urquhart’ is thought to combine Gaelic and Old Welsh words to mean ‘by the woodland’.
Edward I of England seized the castle in 1296. Afterwards it was held alternately by Scottish and by English forces. In 1509 James IV gave John Grant the castle and the lands of adjacent Glen Urquhart.
During the 1688 revolution the Grants opposed the rebellious Jacobites but after their defeat the castle was occupied by government forces. When they left in 1692 it was blown up to prevent its occupation by defeated rebels. More than 200 years later the castle was given to the state by the then owner, a descendant of John Grant.
Today the ditch and the location of the drawbridge, gatehouse and the five-storey high Grant Tower survive, and the outlines of other structures can be seen. The visitor centre, set well back into the hillside and overlooking the castle, was opened in 1999.