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 trip to Inverness. We drive for half an hour on country roads past green landscapes. The drive shows us Scotland as we expected it to be. The country keeps its promises. 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.
Nice accommodations near Cawdor Castle
Cawdor Castle is located just outside the village of the same name. Here many places bear 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 fortress. 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 other buildings, that were added later.
In any case, the Cawdor family still has everything under their control. The widow of the Earl of Cawdor still lives in this house. She moves out of the castle during the summer season and spends the time between April and October in another one of her possessions. During these months, the castle is open to the public.
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The first fortress of the Calders, as the Cawdors were called in ancient writings, was built on the banks of the fiver Nairn in 1179. 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. It was supposed to secure the route between Inverness and Elgin. There are no remains of this fortress today, nor of its successor building.
At the end of the 14th century, 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 for 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 thorn bush. This is part of a family legend. According to it, 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. The animal settled down in the evening under the holly, which continues to grow today in the basement of the Tower House.
The home of the Earl
The extensions that are grouped around the Tower House date largely from the 17th century. In these parts of the house are the rooms that are open to the public. We see several bedrooms with furniture from previous 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 were married in Darnaway Castle in 1662.
The interior of Cawdor Castle
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 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 remained on the table. The house is not a museum. It is inhabited, and leaves the visitor with this impression.
Kitchens at Cawdor Castle
In this castle I can well imagine how the hard-working servants in the old kitchen created the finest dishes 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. You can find everything imaginable here. A dream for anyone, who likes antiques. I discover an old ice box, irons, a warming pan, a grinder for knives, mortar and pestle, a butter churn and much more.
However, I was more impressed by the new kitchen one floor higher. Today the family uses this kitchen. It is also large, but has the most modern installations. Even star chefs are now preparing elegant meals here for events that take place at Cawdor Castle. She's sure to do a good job at the Cawdor Castle Food Festival.
The gardens of Cawdor Castle
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 of Cawdor Castle
The oldest of these is the Walled Garden with its latest achievement, a labyrinth. This is the idea of Lord Cawdor, who decided in 1981 to create a labyrinth of holly. A labyrinth design in the mosaic floor of a ruin of a Roman villa in Conimbriga in Portugal served as a template. In the second part of the garden there is also 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 in 1635.
During our visit, we do not pay a visit to the labyrinth, because our time is limited. We hear, you need time to find your way out of there. Half way there is a shortcut to the exit. But if you miss that, the path through the labyrinth is twice as long. We prefer to stick to the
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Flower Garden at Cawdor Castle
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 lavender borders to the rose beds in the mid-19th century. 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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The Wild Garden at Cawdor Castle
This garden is also one of the newer achievements of the castle. It exists since the 1960s. It is a place for 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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Cawdor 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 August 14th, 1040. The fortress was built only 300 years later. Macbeth killed his father Duncan, but not in an ambush, 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 in 1606, hundreds of years after the story unfolded.
This fact annoyed the fifth Earl of Cawdor so much that he said: "I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!" Nevertheless, many visit the castle today 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 rain protection in Scotland. It's best to do it like the Scots and put one in it yourself Case.
- 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 times Cawdor Castle:
End of April to October, daily 10 am - 5 pm
The current Cawdor Castle entrance fees can be found on the castle's website: www.cawdorcastle.com.
There are also numerous excursions and tours in and around Inverness * that you can book through Get Your Guide.
Places to stay near Cawdor Castle:
Hotels in and around Inverness * You can book here. We have the first two nights in the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness * spent the night. We finally spent the third night at Glenkirk B&B in Drumnadrochit. Under Bed and Breakfast Inverness Scotland * You can book bed and breakfast in and around Inverness.
Do you already know:
- Make butter yourself in the churn
- Christmas at the Hohensalzburg Fortress
- The Advent market at the Hohensalzburg Fortress
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