Urquhart Castle is believed to date back to the late 13th Century, although the exact date of construction is unclear. Some believe an earlier Pictish castle existed on the site, but there is no evidence to support this theory.
The castle is situated on the promontory of Strone Point overlooking the waters of Loch Ness. The land was granted to Thomas de Lundin by Alexander II as a reward for his aid in suppressing a rebellion. Building work is likely to have begun when the castle passed to his son following Thomas's death in 1275AD.
The first documented account of Urquhart Castle occurs in 1296AD when it was captured by the English King Edward I. The castle continued to change hands on many occasions over the next few hundred years with the ebb and flow of wars between the English and the Scots.
By the time of the English Civil War, Urquhart Castle had fallen into decline. Cromwell showed no interest in it when he invaded Scotland in 1650AD, and the castle saw its last action in 1689AD when it was successfully defended against a Jacobite force. When the English garrison finally left, they slighted the castle, rendering it of little further use as a fortification.
In 1884AD the remains of Urquhart Castle passed into the hands of the Countess of Seafield. Upon her death in 1911AD, she bequeathed the ruins into the care of the state.
Today, Urquhart Castle is an extremely busy tourist destination. Try to catch it out of season if possible, but even then, don't expect it to be quiet. Despite that, the location is still stunning, offering panoramic views out across Loch Ness, and the ruins that survive are sufficient to give a clear impression of the the castle's layout. The Grant Tower is the best preserved part of the castle and can be explored from the cellar right up to the turret, and offers particularly striking views.