Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle

This is located about eleven miles east from Inverness/Inbhir Nis and southwest of Nairn/Inbhir Narann and dates from the fourteenth century. Over the centuries it has continued to expand from the original keep and is now noted for it's gardens and wood. The castle is the ancestral home to the Clan Cawdor and the Dowager Countess Cawdor continues to live there. The castle and grounds are open to the public from April to October.

William Shakespeare wrote the final version of The Tragedie of Macbeth during the spring of 1606. Shakespeare gave a special royal performance of the play at Hampton Court that same summer to entertain the King James VI of Scotland (and by then James I of England) and his brother-in-law, Christian IV, King of Denmark. Although the murder of Duncan takes place in Inverness Castle, it is often associated with Cawdor Castle. However, Cawdor Castle was not built until the late 14th century and so could not have been the place of Duncan's demise.

Early Scottish history was recorded by monks. Andrew of Wyntoun, Canon of St Andrews in Fife, records the story of Macbeth in his Cronykil in 1406. The tells of Macbeth dreaming of three sisters, who in turn talk about his destiny: the Thane of Cromarty, the Thane of Moray, and lastly the King. A later historian, Hector Boethius (or Boyis) published his Chronicle in 1527. Although drawing upon Wyntoun's story of Macbeth, he changed the predicted titles to the Thane of Glamis and the Thane of 'Cawder'. The title Thane was given to a local royal official in medieval eastern Scotland,

Cawdor castle is a fascinating place to visit. There is a room in the castle where an ancient tree stands. It is known as the 'Thorn Tree Room'. Legend tells that the Thane of Cawdor, who had a small castle nearby, decided to build a new fortress. He placed gold upon the back of a donkey and allowed it to roam the area. Wherever the donkey rested the castle would be built. He lay below the tree that is now kept in this room. Radiocarbon dating gives the date of the tree as approximately 1372 AD. The tree has been identified as holly. The holly is known as one of the seven sacred trees of the Celtic grove.

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Cawdor Castle Thorn Tree Room

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