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Discover Cawdor Castle in Scotland

Cawdor Castle in Nairn

Cawdor Castle in Nairn (Map) is only about 23 kilometers northeast of Inverness, That's why a visit is worthwhile during a short visit to Inverness. We drive for half an hour on country roads past green landscapes. That's what we thought of Scotland. The country owes us nothing. It is green with rolling hills and presents us with a mix of sun and clouds. We are on the southern edge of the Highlands. In the country south of the bay, which separates Inverness from the sea.

Appealing accommodations near the castle

Cawdor Castle is located just outside the village of the same name. Here many bears the name Cawdor. The Cawdor Tavern, The Cawdor Estate. The Cawdor Castle Gardens. And of course the castle itself. Or is it a castle? I am not sure about that. Although Cawdor Castle uses the term castle in its name, it is more like a castle. The oldest part of the building in any case. This is the fortified Tower House in the center of the defiant structure. This still towers above all later added buildings.

In any case, the Cawdor family still has everything under their control here. The widow of the Earl of Cawdor still lives in this house of her family. She moves out of the castle during the warm season and spends her time between April and October in another of her possessions. During these months, the castle is open to the public.

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Castle Cawdor

The first fortress of the Calders, so the Cawdors were called in ancient writings, was already 1179 on the banks of the river Nairn. The Thanes of Calder were then appointed sheriffs and guardians of the royal castle in Nairn. William the Lion had this fortress built on the ford across the river Nairn near the sea. She was supposed to secure the route between Inverness and Elgin. There are no remains of this fortress today, nor of its successor building.

End of the 14. Finally, the core of today 's castle was built. The Tower House with its four floors still dominates the later added extensions of the building. Like many tower houses of that time, it served the defense. As such, one used a simple form of defense. The entrance to the Tower House was on the first floor, so it was easy to protect the building from intruders.

Over the coming 600 years, the Cawdor Family continued to expand the building until it took on its current form.

A family legend

The Tower House is built around a bush. To this entwines a family legend. After that, the Thane of Cawdor was told in a dream to send out a donkey in search of the best place to build the new fortress. He did. He slapped a box of gold on the donkey's back. This settled down in the evening under a holly, which continues to grow today in the basement of the Tower House.

The home of the Earl

The annexes that cluster around the Tower House are mostly from the 17. Century. In these parts of the house are the rooms that are open to the public. We see several bedrooms whose furniture is from past generations of the Cawdor family. The four-poster bed with its red velvet canopy in the Tapestry Bedroom was once the wedding bed of Sir Hugh Campbell and Lady Henrietta Stuart, who married 1662 at Darnaway Castle.

The inner

family apartments

Over time, the family decorates their residence with fine tapestries, rugs, paintings by famous painters such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Francis Cotes, Sir William Beechey and Sir Thomas Lawrence. In between, however, hand-painted drawings of the ladies of the house hang on the walls. The showcases are stacked with porcelain from several centuries. The shelves of the bookcases bend under the printed works collected over time by the generations of the Cawdors.

A visit to Cawdor Castle is like entering the owners' private rooms. On the table in the Drawing Room, piles of books are randomly draped on sideboards. In the Dining Room, the table is set, as if the family returns at any moment from their daily pursuits. In the living room you have the impression, as if the magazines from a cozy reading evening on the table remained. The house is not a museum. It is inhabited, and leaves the visitor with this impression.


In this castle I can well imagine how the hard-working servants in the old kitchen the finest dishes created for their masters. It was in operation until 1938. The old kitchen is big. The shelves on the walls and the large kitchen table bend under the kitchen utensils that have accumulated over time. There is everything possible. A dream for anyone who likes antiques. I discover an old ice box, iron irons, a warming pan, a grinder for knives, mortar and pestle, a butter churn and many more.

More, however, it has done me the new kitchen a floor higher. Today, the family uses this kitchen. She is tall, too, but has state-of-the-art installations. Even star chefs are now preparing elegant meals for events taking place at Cawdor Castle. At the Cawdor Castle Food Festival, she certainly does a good job.

The Gardens

The castle is not only famous for its premises, but also for its gardens. Three of these gardens are located in the immediate vicinity of the castle. These are presented here:

Walled Garden

The oldest of these is the Walled Garden with its latest achievement, a labyrinth. This is the idea of ​​Lord Cawdor, who decided 1981 to create a labyrinth of holly. As a template served a labyrinth design in the mosaic floor of a ruin of a Roman villa in Conimbriga in Portugal. In the second part of the garden there is also today the knot garden, the thistle garden and the paradise garden. Old Scottish fruit trees are reminiscent of the original orchard, which was mentioned for the first time 1635.

During our visit, we pay a visit to the labyrinth for reasons of time. It means you need time to find your way out of there. Half way there is a shortcut to the exit. But if you miss them, the path through the labyrinth is doubled. We prefer to stick to the

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Flower Garden

The flower garden goes back to the year 1710. At that time Sir Archibald Campbell, the brother of the Thane of Cawdor, took over the design of this garden. It took fifteen years to finish. Sir Archibald turned it into a garden in which fruit trees and hedges grew.

A later landlady added mid-19. Century lavender borders to the rose beds added. In addition, she planted gooseberry hedges, as the family especially enjoyed their fruits. At that time, the Cawdor family used the castle almost only during the hunting season between August and October. Therefore, the garden contained mainly plants that bloomed at this time of the year. These beds still exist today, but the flowering period has been extended by adding bulbous plants, flowering trees and shrubs that expanded the flowering season from early spring to fall.

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Wild Garden

This garden is also one of the newer achievements of the castle. It exists since the 1960 years. It is a planting of azaleas, rhododendrons, daffodils, primroses, willows and bamboo under tall old trees. Five hiking trails invite you to take long walks through these gardens. Good footwear is necessary because the paths are uneven.

Follow us on our visit to the gardens and Cawdor Castle in Petar's video. It gives you a good idea of ​​what the castle and its surroundings offer.

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The Castle and Macbeth

Shakespeare describes the castle in his drama Macbeth. Only - in Macbeth's lifetime, Cawdor Castle did not exist yet. Duncan died on 14. August 1040. The fortress was built only 300 years later. Macbeth killed his father Duncan, but not in the background, as in Shakespeare's drama, but in a battle. This took place very close to the place where the castle stands today. The real Duncan died after the battle in Elgin Castle. Macbeth was then crowned King of Scots in Scone near Perth.

In the course of the tradition, a chronicler mistakenly mentioned the Thane of Cawdor in the course of events. Finally, in his tragedy, Shakespeare relays the story to Cawdor Castle. He wrote the work 1606, hundreds of years after the story unfolded.

The fifth Earl of Cawdor was so annoyed by the fact that he said: "I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!" Nevertheless, many people today visit the castle precisely because of this episode in Shakespeare's work.

What's in the suitcase?

  • Rain jacket for women - Which is the best, you can read here
  • Wax jacket for men * - Waterproof and windproof wax jackets are perfect rainwear in Scotland. It's best to do it like the Scots and pack one in your suitcase.
  • Umbrella * - Such an umbrelly should be strong and handy, because wind and rain are common in Scotland.
  • Rainproof shoes for women - If you want to go hiking in Scotland, waterproof shoes are essential.
  • Scotland travel guide * - In Europe we rarely travel without the travel guides of Michael Müller.

Opening hours:

End of April to October, daily 10.00 - 17.00 clock
The current Cawdor Castle entrance fees can be found on the castle's website: www.cawdorcastle.com.

Travel Arrangements:


There are also numerous excursions and tours in and around Inverness * that you can book through Get Your Guide.


Hotels in and around Inverness * You can book here. We have the first two nights in the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness * spent the night. The third night we finally spent at Glenkirk B & B in Drumnadrochit. Under Bed and Breakfast Inverness Scotland * You can book bed and breakfast in and around Inverness.

Other locks

More travel tips for Slow Travel Tips Travel can be found at these links. discover Excursions to Inverness here. Other Castles and palaces here.

Source for the article: own research on site.

We thank Visit Great Britain and Visit Inverness Loch Ness for the kind invitation to this trip. The Tourist Information Inverness has assisted us in our search for interesting places for an Inverness vacation in and around the city. Our opinion, however, remains our own.

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline


  1. Selda
    | Reply

    When I read the report and look at the photos, it reminds me of some movies or stories. A very nice insight into a time that is very old. Unfortunately, I have not traveled to Scotland yet, but your beautiful report is very inspiring.

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Dear Selda,

      In such places we are always fascinated by what these buildings have experienced. In Cawdor Castle, the story goes back centuries. Surely these walls could tell a lot.

      Best regards,

  2. Sabine
    | Reply

    Exactly my thing, dear Monika!
    From the bed over the pots to the garden, I love this old tuff and somehow a bit unapproachable charm of old times. And Scotland has this very special rough flair, which I find fascinating.
    Best regards

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Liebe Sabine

      we already have a very similar taste. We also like such places very much. I always imagine what has happened in these walls. I would like to browse the archives to find out more about it.

      Best regards,

  3. Michaela
    | Reply

    Unfortunately I have never been to Scotland. I especially find your videos of Cowdor Castle extremely impressive - looks like a fairytale landscape there - beautiful !!

    Best regards,

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Dear Michaela,

      nice if we can convey an impression of the gardens of Cawdor Castle with our videos. The interesting thing is that they include everything from labyrinths to fruit and flower gardens to wilderness gardens. There's something for everyone.

      Best regards,

  4. Charnette
    | Reply

    Dear Monika, dear Petar,
    I've been following your travelogues for a while now and I'm thrilled with your love of detail. Also this article about the beautiful Scotland I liked again very much, I know Inverness but from the novels of Diana Gabaldon. Unfortunately we were not there ourselves.
    Greetings and keep it up,

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Dear Charnette,

      Thank you very much for your nice comment. I am very happy if you like our travel reports so much. Inverness and, above all, its surroundings are ideal for a short break or a weekend. You can also get a taste of it in Scotland. The way we did it.

      Best regards,

  5. Tanya
    | Reply

    Castles in Scotland, always nice. :-)
    Even with offspring that was great - Castles & Palaces is still still a topic for the younger fellow travelers. ;-)
    Unfortunately, when we were in Scotland on 3 years ago, unfortunately, we were not allowed to publish pictures of any castle (at least from inside). We should have always - officially - have to register in advance. Since we were more spontaneous (as a road trip) that was of course difficult (he). All the better and more detailed is of course your report - even including video.
    Best regards, Tanja

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Dear Tanja,

      Yes, we were on a press trip to Cawdor Castle. Since we were allowed to photograph the castle. This impressed us because it is still inhabited by its owners. There was nothing museal about it. On the contrary, in some rooms it seemed as if the lords had just left the room.

      That was a great experience.

      Best regards,

  6. Ricarda
    | Reply

    Dear Monika, Dear Petar,
    I really like Scotland, but personally I prefer the scenery in particular. But I see that you should visit the castles from inside. The castle's interior looks beautiful and I would certainly appeal to the many gardens.
    LG, Ricarda

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Dear Ricarda,

      This was our first (short) trip to Scotland, which led us only to Inverness and the surrounding area. There was a trip to the area surrounding the city. The castle is just under half an hour's drive from Inverness. Therefore, it is a perfect destination for the short time that was available to us. We were all the more impressed by what we found there. A really interesting visit.

      Best regards,

  7. Shadowlight
    | Reply

    Great, thanks for the great impressions!
    I wish you a good start to the week!

    • Monika
      | Reply

      Dear Jenny,

      Thank you very much for your nice comment. I am glad if you like our report about the castle. Also a nice week.

      Best regards,

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