Cawdor Castle, Nairn – Clan Calder
Cawdor Castle is a fantastically well preserved medieval stronghold standing inside stunning grounds near the highland town of Nairn, just outside of Inverness.
The Castle retains its original tower, built in the 14th century, in addition to a drawbridge and other surrounding buildings which were built thereafter and is one of the best examples of a well-conserved castle in Scotland with its extensive gardens complementing the castle’s structure to create an appealing area to spend time in.
The castle was built by the Calder family, that first gained control of the lands around the castle in a charter from Alexander II in 1236. It is said that the Calder family who lived there were descended from the former King of Scots, MacBeth, and it would be Donald Calder, 5th Thane, who would build the majority of the castle in the 14th century when he constructed it over the top of an existing holly tree. The remains of the tree can still be viewed in the basement of the castle.
The Cawdors would, however, eventually give up the control of the stronghold to the larger Campbell family when they kidnapped the Calder heiress of the fortress and married her to Sir John Campbell, the son of the Earl of Argyll, in 1511 at the age of 12.
From that day on, the Castle would be held by the ‘Campbells of Cawdor’, a branch of the larger Campbell Clan and the family would construct the castle’s stunning gardens around 100 years later before further expanding its grounds to include a walled flower garden in 1720 and an extensive woodland towards the end of the 18th century.
The main branch of the Campbells of Cawdor would eventually settle in Pembrokeshire and were given the titles of Barons Calder in 1796 and Earls Calder in 1829. The estate would then be managed predominantly by the younger brothers of the family while still being used as a summer residence by the Earls themselves. The final addition to the castle would take place in the 19th century when a southern and eastern range was added to the castle to create a courtyard. The family still hold the castle to this day and it was lived in by the second wife of the 6th Earl Cawdor, Dowager Countess Angelika, as recently as the start of the 21st century.