Cawdor Castle, Scotland

<strong>Cawdor Castle, Scotland</strong>

By Robert Scott

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When Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, he set it just outside Inverness, between what is now the Inverness International Airport and the city itself. The play is mostly historical, but with some literary license; in the latter category, is having Macbeth inherit the title from the recently killed Thane of Cawdor, and he and Lady Macbeth moving into the Cawdor Castle. The historical Macbeth did in fact kill the Thane, but the title and castle remained with the Thane’s family. The current castle is newer by two centuries than the setting of the play (it was built in the 1300s), and it is pictured here. It still belongs to the Earl of Cawdor, or rather to the recent Earl’s widow Angelica, the Dowager Earl. She lives there alone half the year (she is expected to return home in May), and in order to pay the bills allows tours through her home. It is beautiful inside as well as out, but indoor photography is prohibited. Here is a photo of the impressive outside. Inside, every room has a personality and is a combination of current and historical items. The TV room, for example, has the electronics hidden away inside 18th century furniture in order not to spoil the effect. Our private tour (arranged by the company setting up our Caledonian Canal tour) missed meeting the Dowager Earl, but I decided I would like her. Books are everywhere: current paperback novels as well as literary classics, piled up on most of the surfaces and occasionally on the floor next to what are clearly her favorite chairs. Looks sort of like my house would look, if I had a seven-figure budget to furnish each room and a cleaning staff each day.

Our barge tour was the initial one for this season, and it was a sort of shakedown for the crew of five (including two new young lady stewards and a woman New Zealander who captained the barge). There were just four passengers, so we were outnumbered by the crew. Since the other three passengers were also women, I basked in quite a bit of welcome attention. It was fun, and I will need to train Belle when I get home as to how that is done.

We visited many rural settings on our cruise as well as one other truly noteworthy castle: Eilean Donan on the Atlantic coast about an hour’s drive northwest of the Caledonian Canal. It is strictly a museum with its own history, including its storming during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-1746, but since it doesn’t have a current resident, it was more awe-inspiring than charming. Still, it was well worth a trip.

There is too much to write about in a short column, just as there was too much to see in just six days. I’ll write a retrospective in next week’s column. I hope you all had a Happy Easter!