Rait Castle – Nairn, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Rait Castle

Nairn, Scotland

In the Scottish Highlands, this 13th-century castle ruin is hidden at the end of a farm track. 


This secluded ruin, a “hall house” if you really want to get technical, was originally a Mackintosh property, and it came to the Norman Knights Comyn/Cummings—later de Rait—family, apparently with some bad blood. 

Mackintosh later re-acquired the castle, and then the Campbells. The last recorded reference to the castle comes from 1596, when it was abandoned, but it is said the Duke of Cumberland—the leader of the Government forces—stayed there in 1746 prior to the Battle of Culloden, the battlefield roughly ten miles to the west.

History relates that a feast was held in 1442 upon the transfer of the house from de Rait to Mackintosh, and a massacre ensued, with most of the Comyns and de Raits killed.  The laird fixed blame upon his daughter.  She attempted to escape via a high window, ended up hanging from it, and the laird chopped off her hands and she fell to her death.  Accordingly, her handless ghost may haunt the site.

Views from the site are beautiful, looking north at a panorama of the Moray Firth, the Black Isle, the North Sea, and the Highland coast to the east. Fun fact: Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt is a de Rait descendant and visited this site in 1990.

Know Before You Go

This is a hard one to find.  It comes up quickly and easily on Google Maps, and there are numerous websites with lots of details about the site.  Putting the address into your GPS will get you to the vicinity, and that's about it--try using geocoords instead.

Best way to get there is to take A96 out of Nairn to the east, toward Elgin.  Turn right/south onto A939.  Go past Househill and turn right/south on B9101 and go about 1/4 mile and look for the very first left turn.  Look for the truly small "Rait Castle Farm" and even smaller "Rait Castle" signs (see photo).  Follow this farm track all the way to its end.  You will have to pass through at least one farm gate; make sure you close them behind you.

There is ample free parking at the top of the pasture.  There is no admission fee.

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