Between Nairn and Cawdor lies a hidden ruin with its own tragic love story.
History (well, lets face it – Google) tells us that in the 13th Century, the lands around Rait Castle – situated between Cawdor and Nairn – became the subject of a bitter feud between the Cummings and Mackintosh clans. The first structure had been built by the Mackintoshes, but seized by the Cummings in the late 1200s, and for over a century the dispute raged on.
Finally, in 1442, the Cummings invited the Mackintoshes to the castle to settle their differences. In what is now a grass-covered hall, bordered on three sides by metre-thick walls sprouting out-of-place trees, the Cummings would murder their guests during a great feast.
However, the daughter of the Cummings Clan Chief had fallen in love with a young Mackintosh and warned him of the coming danger. Rather than being taken by surprise, the Mackintoshes arrived with dirks (long daggers) hidden under their clothes.
The bloody massacre that ensued can still be felt in the grounds today. The castle is not easy to find, marked by etchings on a wooden sign post and situated at the end of a long dirt track. Overgrown hedges create a sense of claustrophobia.
While the fight raged on, the Cummings Clan Chief ran upstairs to the room where his daughter was hiding, suspected her of the betrayal and cut off her hands as she leapt from the window in an attempt to escape.
Supposedly the ghost of the girl with no hands still walks the grounds, and we were amazed to see – in the confines of the castle turret – the remnants of a camp fire where some brave souls had clearly decided to see if she comes out at night…
While not an obvious tourist attraction, and definitely off the beaten-path, Rait Castle is a conserved building by Historic Scotland. Knowing the history behind it put the ruin in to context and, fortunately for us, kept the frightened locals away long enough to make sure that the stones which would otherwise have been pilfered remain standing to this day.
Find out more about the Ghost of Rait Castle.
You can find Rait Castle on Google Maps.