Castle Grant, Grantown-on-Spey – Clan Grant
Sitting on a hill near the town of Granton-on-Spey known as ‘Freuchie-hillock, the eponymous Castle Grant is the historic clan seat of the Scottish Grant family.
Originally constructed in the 11th century, the main building at Grant Castle is thought to have been erected during the beginning of the 14oos and would originally be called Freuchie Castle, Freuchie meaning ‘heathery place’. It would eventually be renamed ‘Castle Grant’ in 1694 to reflect its reputation as the ancestral seat of the clan despite them being in charge of the stronghold since the 1450s.
It is believed the Grants acquired the castle after a conflict with the Comyn Clan as they and the MacGregors fought the Comyns to gain control of the surrounding land. According to legend, during this battle, the chief of Clan Comyn was killed and his skull was taken as a trophy with it remaining under the Grant’s control as a place to keep their important documents for hundreds of years.
The Grants would then take over the castle and would continue to live there throughout a tumultuous period in history as the 1690 Battle of Cromdale took place on the grounds of the stronghold as the Grants fought against the Jacobites. It is after this battle that the name of the castle would be changed as Ludoivc Grant, the clan chief, obtained a charter from the crown to rule his lands officially. Subsequently, Ludovic would go on to make various improvements to the castle and commissioned a number of paintings of the family to show their new status.
Grant Castle would then enjoy a visit from the renowned poet, Robert Burns in the year 1787 as the bard travelled around the country before an even more distinguished visitor arrived in 1860 in the form of Queen Victoria. During her visit, the Queen is said to have humorously described the castle as looking like a small factory.
In more modern times, the building was eventually left to fall into disrepair as it was abandoned before being restored by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1912. It would, sadly, fall into disrepair again and has only been restored again in the last 30 years as it was turned back into the grand country home that it once was. The former stronghold has been in the news again in recent times as it was purchased in 2006 by the future owner of Rangers Football Club, Craig Whyte, and was seized by the Bank of Scotland in 2012 after Rangers entered administration and liquidation. It was then sold to Russian businessman, Sergey Fedotov, in 2014, who was also involved in the news after being arrested for fraud and sentenced to a 5-year prison sentence in 2020.