There are many castles
and estates within both the Strathspey region, and the areas of Glenmoriston
on the western side of Loch Ness. Collected here is a brief summary of
these estates as well as their historical relationship to the Clan Grant.
Some of these estates are no longer in the hands of the Clan, and some
are now in the keeping of the National Trust of Scotland.
Possibly the second most important estate in the Clan's history. The
Grants of Ballindalloch descend from the son of the 1st Laird of Freuchie
and were one of the principal branches of the Clan. They owned the
lands as early as 1520. During the 16th century, the Grants of Ballindalloch
became embroiled in a feud with the Earl of Huntly, who proceeded
to attack and burn the castle. Today, the castle is one of the jewels
of the Strathspey region, and is still owned by the Macpherson-Grant
family. The Castle is open to the public during the week and can be
visited if you are in the Strathspey region.
Owned by the Grants of Glenmoriston, Urquhart Castle is one of the
most often photographed and easily recognizable castles in Scotland.
The original castle dates from around the time of William the Lion,
in the 12th century, though at that time it was probably just a wooden
fort. It passed through a series of owners over the following centuries,
including the Comyns, MacLeans, and MacDonalds, and was given to John
Grant of Glenmoriston, by James IV, in 1509. The castle remained in
the hands of the Grants for nearly two hundred years. It was finally
destroyed by government troops in 1691, to keep it from becoming a
Jacobite stronghold. Situated on the shores of Loch Ness, the castle
is a prominent "monster sighting" spot, and some of the most famous
photographs of "Nessie" feature the castle. During the Grant's occupation
of the castle it was often raided by the neighboring clans of MacDonald
and Cameron, in one instance being stripped down to the bed linen
and the brass door fixings!
The primary residence of the Earls of Seafield, Cullen House was also
one of the primary residences of the Chiefs of Grant throughout the
19th century when the title of the Ogilvie Earls of Seafield passed
to the family line of the Chiefs of Grant. The titles have since diverged.
This castle, restored as a private residence and holiday let, was
constructed in 1598 by Patrick Grant, 2nd son of John 4th Laird of
Grant. This Patrick became the ancestor of the Grants of Rothiemurchus.
Standing on the top of a steep bank in the valley of the River Dulnain
about 4 miles from Grantown, it is a typical Scottish tower house
built to a very simple L-plan, with a main block of three storeys,
a garret and a circular stairway. Derelict for centuries, the castle
was restored by architect Ian Begg from 1978-85, who has also left
his mark with the St Mungo Museum in Glasgow and the Scandic Crown
Hotel in Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
The lands and estates of the Grants of Rothiemurchus are still held
by the family of John Grant of Rothiemurchus (direct descendent
of this ancient family line). Rothiemurchus Estate is open to the
public. There are beautiful trails leading around Loch an Eilean,
which presents magnificent views of the Cairngorm mountains in the
background. The ruined island castle on Loch an Eilein is estimated
to be at least 600 years old and was used as a refuge in troubled
times. It was attacked by Jacobite MacDonalds after the Battle of
Cromdale in 1690, but the Grant defenders successfully beat off
the assault. The castle was used in the 1700's to hold Jacobite
prisoners, but later fell into disuse as Scotland became a more
Ospreys nest in the area around the Loch and are a highlight for
those who visit the estate. The main residence of the family was
called "The Doune" and it has been restored in recent years. Elizabeth
Grant of Rothiemurchus wrote a wonderful account of her life growing
up on the estate and the surrounding region in her "Memoirs of a
Highland Lady". The Grants of Rothiemurchus, historically, were
a very important branch of the family and powerful enough that they
often operated fairly independently, as did the Grants of Glenmoriston.
Rothiemurchus Estate is a "must see" for any Grant visiting the
Strathspey lands of our ancestors.