The magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness, remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state.
Urquhart was once one of Scotland’s largest castles. Its remains include a tower house – the most recent building on the site – that commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen.
Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 1200s to the 1600s was particularly bloody. Following the invasion of King Edward I of England in 1296, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 1300s 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 1306.
In the 1400s and 1500s, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles.
The castle’s history is told in the exhibition and audio-visual display in the new visitor centre. The centre features an outstanding array of medieval artefacts found at the castle. It also tells the stories of the noble families who held the castle at different times: the Durwards, MacDonalds and Grants.
The visitor centre contains a café, a shop, an exhibition and interpretation area, an audio-visual presentation and toilets, all on one level. Its veranda offers stunning views of the loch.