Cawdor Castle

The History of Cawdor Castle

LocationCawdor, Nairnshire, Scotland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsTemporarily Closed (Opening in Spring 2022)
Owned byPrivate Owners
Official WebsiteCawdor Castle
Rooms AvailableNo

The home of Thanes of Cawdor since the 1300s, Cawdor Castle is a charming fairytale family mansion located in Scotland. It is set on stunning grounds with three beautiful gardens and Cawdor Big Wood. This castle is famous for its literary connection with William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. The Cawdor castle and gardens open for visitors in Spring and allow them to experience the Cawdor castle Christmas market, the splendour of the gardens, and the castle’s historical approach.


The Cawdor Castle estate was founded by William the Lion in 1179 as a site for commanding the ford. However, after a few years, the building constructed on the estate vanished. There are no historical records about when the castle was built on the estate, but it is assumed to be in the 14th century. The style of the stonework done in the oldest parts of the castle is proven to be from 1380. However, as per modern scientific testing, the holy tree around which the castle was built died in 1372. It shows that the credible date of the castle’s first construction could be even older.

The Cawdor Castle has been expanded several times since its existence. The heiress of the Calders, Muriel married Sir John Campbell of Muckairn in 1510. He also extended and improved the castle. John Campbell, the 3rd of Cawdor, also made improvements to the castle. And by 1635, the first garden was added to the castle’s land. Later, Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor, the castle owner, improved its north and west ranges.

In the 1680s, Sir Alexander Campbell, son of Sir Hugh Campbell, married Elizabeth Lort of Stackpole Court. After the marriage, the Campbells of Cawdor mainly lived on their other estates in Pembrokeshire. Meanwhile, the Cawdor castle was managed by the younger brothers of the family. They added a walled flower garden in 1720 and extensive woodlands in the mid-18th century to the castle estate.

In 1789, John Campbell of Cawdor was the Member of Parliament, and he married the daughter of the Earl of Carlisle. In 1796, he was honoured as the Lord of Cawdor. In 1827, his son became the Earl Cawdor. In the 19th century, Cawdor, including the Cawdor castle, became the summer residence of Earls. The southern and eastern ranges were added near the castle’s courtyard and were accessed by a drawbridge.

In the 20th century, John Campbell, 5th Earl Cawdor, permanently moved to Cawdor castle. His son, James Campbell, was succeeded by the 6th Earl, and his wife, Dowager Countess Angelika, still lives in the castle. Now, the Cawdor Castle is a category A-listed building, and its grounds come under the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland (A National Listing of Significant gardens).


Cawdor castle
Cawdor castle, by Christoph Strässler, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cawdor castle is a stone-made and well-presented castle. This castle was never attacked, allowing visitors to explore a complete and original medieval building filled with history. It even retained the original holly tree, around which the first castle structure was built.

The major attraction of Cawdor castle is the main tower from the 15th century that can be accessed by the external stair near the doorway of the first floor. The basement of the castle is now the storage room. The main tower is also connected to the South and South-east ranges, which were built in the 19th century to match the medieval architecture of the castle. The eastern part includes a drawbridge, which connects the main tower to the dry moat. The northern and western parts of the tower are three-storey high and were designed and reconstructed between the 16th and 17th centuries. Here, you will find the vaulted lower chambers, crow-stepped gables, and attic stairs.

The drawing room of Cawdor castle is its centrepiece. It is created from the original Great Hall and includes a musician gallery. You can find the original fireplace and chimneypiece in it. Just above the drawing room, the Tapestry Bedroom includes a bedchamber designed in 1682. It includes the four-posture marriage bed, initially designed for Sir Hugh Campbell and Lady Henrietta Stuart in 1662. The yellow room has a Bronze Age funeral beaker design. The Woodcock room and pink room were originally built between the 1670s and 1680s, including many family portraits.

The Cawdor Castle includes beautiful gardens divided into different parts, and each of them is surrounded by unique history. You can access the Big Wood, flower garden, walled garden, wild garden, and paradise garden in it. The Cawdor castle and gardens hosted the Cawdor castle Christmas market, which will add more fun to your Castle visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Cawdor Castle?

Cawdor Castle is located in the town of Cawdor, Nairnshire. It is a beautiful county in Scotland. The Cawdor castle opening times are 10 am to 5:30 pm between 30th April 2022 and 2nd October 2022.

What is Cawdor Castle famous for?

Cawdor Castle is famous for being one of the oldest castles with original structures in Scotland. Also, it has a literary connection with ‘Tragedy Macbeth’, a famous play by William Shakespeare based on history.

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