Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle isn't just gorgeous... it's steeped in history and surrounded by legends - it even has Shakespearean connections!

cawdor castle
Cawdor Castle, Scotland

This Scottish castle is absolutely stunning, and although as a 'Cawdor Campbell' myself I'm a little bit biased, it is definitely a castle of the 'fairytale' variety!

Stonework in part of the castle has been estimated, by architectural historians, to date back to the mid 1300's and historical documents also show that as early as 1310, William, Thane of Calder (as Cawdor was then written), paid rental for the land on which the castle stands.

However, the first documented date for this Scotland castle is 1454 - when the same William, Thane of Calder (roughly translates to the 'Baron of Calder'), obtained a licence to 'build and fortify' his castle.

Cawdor Castle is surrounded by stories, myths and legends, beginning with the one which describes how the Thane of Cawdor allowed a gold-bearing donkey to choose where to build it!

This legend might explain why the castle is built around a thorn bush - originally thought to be Hawthorne, but recently identified as a Holly bush - under which the donkey is said to have slept. In keeping with this theme, the Cawdor Toast is 'Flourish the Thorn'.

If you know any Shakespeare, you may have picked up on the relationship between Cawdor Castle and Shakespeares' 'Macbeth'.

Although it's the stuff of legends, unfortunately the connection is a work of fiction, as the castle didn't exist in the 11th century (the time of the real Macbeth). It grew out of repeated embellishment, myth and 'poetic license', but it's still a great story and adds even more 'romance' to this particular castle of Scotland.

The castle saw several additions and renovations during the 17th and 18th centuries, including to the gateway and drawbridge, turrets, courtyard and more. The famous gardens have also changed over time, with the larger Flower Garden and Wild garden being added during the 18th and 19th centuries respectively.

Interesting facts about to Cawdor Castle.....

  • Although originally the home of the Thanes of Calder, this castle became part of the Campbell empire after some very dramatic events! These centered around the kidnapping of the heiress Muriel Calder on the orders of Archibald Campbell, (the second Earl of Argyll) and her marriage in 1511 (at age 11 or 12) to his son Sir John Campbell. This marriage was (oddly) successful, and led to the development of the 'Campbells' of Cawdor', and to the castle becoming the seat of the Clan Campbell of Cawdor.

  • The 'romance' of Muriel and John has been turned into a novel by Kathryn Lynn Davis, called Child of AweIf you like stories of historical romance, this might be just up your street!
  • There are said to be two ghosts that haunt this Scottish Castle. One is a woman in a blue, velvet dress - which may be Muriel Calder. The other is said to be Sir John Campbell. So, perhaps they really did have a love story, and are still together to this day.

  • This beautiful castle and its' gardens are open to the public from early May to early October.

    Cawdor Castle Official Website

    Scottish Castles

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    Dumbarton Castle

    Edinburgh Castle

    Eilean Donan Castle

    Urquhart Castle

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