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TITLE
Cawdor Castle drawbridge
EXTERNAL ID
PC_CAWDOR_07A
PLACENAME
Cawdor
DISTRICT
Nairn (landward)
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
NAIRN: Cawdor
PERIOD
1870s
SOURCE
Cawdor Heritage Group
ASSET ID
22083
KEYWORDS
castles
drawbridges
ditches
Shakespeare
tower houses
yetts
gates
thorn trees
donkeys
legends
traditions
vaults
Campbells
clans
Jacobites
ancestral home
ancestral homes
tourism
Cawdor Castle drawbridge

This photograph, taken around 1875, shows the drawbridge which crosses the original ditch at Cawdor Castle near Nairn. Mature trees behind a low stone wall border the path leading to an archway and iron gate with a heraldic shield above. According to Shakespeare's 'Macbeth', Cawdor Castle was the scene of King Duncan's death, but Macbeth died in 1052, several centuries before the present castle was built.

The early Thanes of Calder (or Cawdor) were hereditary keepers of the royal castle of Nairn but had a small country residence at Old Calder, about a mile north of the present Cawdor Castle. There is evidence to suggest that a building was begun on the present site in the late 14th century, but it was not until 1454 that Thane William of Calder received a royal licence to build a castle at Cawdor. He built a simple four-storey tower house, which was later restyled with roof turrets. The iron yett (gate) was brought from Lochindorb Castle when it was dismantled in 1457.

Tradition has it that the castle was erected around a thorn tree after Thane William was told in a dream to load his treasure chest onto a donkey and to build his keep wherever the beast stopped to rest. The donkey lay down beside a thorn tree and the area was cleared for the foundations of the tower. The remains of a tree are still preserved in a vaulted apartment at the bottom of the tower and carbon dating has shown it to be approximately 600 years old.

The original family name was Calder but in 1510 Muriel Calder, aged 13, was forced to marry Sir John Campbell, son of the Earl of Argyll, and the lands and title passed to the Campbell clan. In the late 17th century Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor made some major alterations and additions to the castle, not long before he and his family were forced to leave Cawdor because of their Jacobite sympathies. They lived in Wales for much of the next century before returning as the Earls of Cawdor to work on the restoration and conservation of the castle. Cawdor Castle is still home to the Cawdor family as well as being a significant visitor attraction.

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Cawdor Castle drawbridge

NAIRN: Cawdor

1870s

castles; drawbridges; ditches; Shakespeare; tower houses; yetts; gates; thorn trees; donkeys; legends; traditions; vaults; Campbells; clans; Jacobites; ancestral home; ancestral homes; tourism

Cawdor Heritage Group

Cawdor Heritage Group

This photograph, taken around 1875, shows the drawbridge which crosses the original ditch at Cawdor Castle near Nairn. Mature trees behind a low stone wall border the path leading to an archway and iron gate with a heraldic shield above. According to Shakespeare's 'Macbeth', Cawdor Castle was the scene of King Duncan's death, but Macbeth died in 1052, several centuries before the present castle was built.<br /> <br /> The early Thanes of Calder (or Cawdor) were hereditary keepers of the royal castle of Nairn but had a small country residence at Old Calder, about a mile north of the present Cawdor Castle. There is evidence to suggest that a building was begun on the present site in the late 14th century, but it was not until 1454 that Thane William of Calder received a royal licence to build a castle at Cawdor. He built a simple four-storey tower house, which was later restyled with roof turrets. The iron yett (gate) was brought from Lochindorb Castle when it was dismantled in 1457.<br /> <br /> Tradition has it that the castle was erected around a thorn tree after Thane William was told in a dream to load his treasure chest onto a donkey and to build his keep wherever the beast stopped to rest. The donkey lay down beside a thorn tree and the area was cleared for the foundations of the tower. The remains of a tree are still preserved in a vaulted apartment at the bottom of the tower and carbon dating has shown it to be approximately 600 years old.<br /> <br /> The original family name was Calder but in 1510 Muriel Calder, aged 13, was forced to marry Sir John Campbell, son of the Earl of Argyll, and the lands and title passed to the Campbell clan. In the late 17th century Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor made some major alterations and additions to the castle, not long before he and his family were forced to leave Cawdor because of their Jacobite sympathies. They lived in Wales for much of the next century before returning as the Earls of Cawdor to work on the restoration and conservation of the castle. Cawdor Castle is still home to the Cawdor family as well as being a significant visitor attraction.