The pele tower, or tower house, was a popular style by the 14th century, with over 800 erected in Scotland. This was a fortified, square stone edifice that was frequently encircled by a walled courtyard. It was usually built by men who could not afford a man-at-arms, but needed some form of defense against intruders. These towers were often found in remote areas where it would be difficult for soldiers to reach them.
Another common type of castle is called a "loch-nabru" or "loch fortress". There are about 30 of these in Scotland. They are large, roughly oval structures made of huge stones laid without any mortar between them. The walls can be as much as 10 feet (3 m) thick. Access to the interior of the loch-nabru was by means of a narrow corridor, often only wide enough for one person at a time, which led to a small antechamber before opening out onto the main hall where food was stored. A ladder allowed someone to climb up into the ceiling where there might be space for just enough room for a bed and storage.
At the end of the 11th century, King William I of England built several strongholds across his kingdom known as "castles". In Scotland, they are called "baronies".
Ruins of a late 14th century tower house that was home to the Macdonalds of Benbecula until the early 17th century. At any acceptable moment, you have free and open access. The ruins of a great medieval castle are stunning. Set on a high steep bank dominating the River Clyde, this is one of Scotland's largest and best 13th-century fortresses. The location is beautiful with views across the river to Glasgow city centre.
The castle was built by Somhairle MacGhnaidh, Lord of the Isles, as a place of refuge for him and his family when threatened by invading English armies. It replaced an earlier stronghold on the site. The new building was designed by Italian architects who had worked on the castles of Edward I in England. These men introduced many innovative features into Scottish castle architecture which would not be adopted in Britain again until the early 15th century. One of these innovations was the use of natural stone instead of timber for the main building material. The castle also has extensive gardens, including a rare European specimen tree known as a "wild apple".
The castle today is a popular tourist attraction surrounded by trees and wild flowers. It is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the official body responsible for the preservation of Scotland's historic buildings and sites.
It is estimated that the cost of construction of the castle was £20,000 (about $280,000 today).
Indeed, fortification evolved into its own style, and the turrets and sharply vertical emphasis of Scottish Baronial mansions are among Scotland's most unique contributions to British architecture. The first known house in Scotland with these features is Cragside near North Berwick, built by Sir William Bruce for himself and his family in 1666. It is a large, L-shaped stone structure with walls about five feet thick and a tall slate roof with crossbeams. The entrance front has been praised for its elegance and simplicity.
The term "Scottish baronial" has been used to describe many buildings across Britain that share similar characteristics. These include tower houses, which were often found in northern England; and great houses, which can be seen in the south of England. But the word "barony" only applies to those buildings belonging to the Barons who ruled Scotland between 1054 and 1314. Before this time, there were only kingdoms or lordships, which were not allocated names until later when they were granted to people by kings or princes. So, although Scotland had many castles built by nobles, these were not called "Barons' castles" but rather just "castles."
After the collapse of the Roman Empire in Europe, the British Isles were largely abandoned by central European settlers.
The existing castle was built around a 15th century tower house or keep and has evolved over 600 years, with significant extensions from the 17th century. William Calder, 6th Thane of Cawdor (orig. Calder) erected the medieval tower in 1454 as a private stronghold. The castle later served as the residence of the Stuarts, until it was abandoned after the death of King James VI in 1603.
The oldest evidence of the name is an entry in the Papal Chancery dated 10 August 1314 which states that "William de Caldore granted this castle with all its appurtenances to the monastery of Cawdor". This confirms that the family had been lords of Cawdor for more than 100 years by this time. The spelling on the original document was probably "Caldor", but this has been altered over time to create the current form of the name.
After the murder of Robert I, his son and successor David II became a hostage to the Lord of Cawdor, who refused to release him. Thus, David decided to escape from Cawdor, but he could not do so alone and therefore invited other nobles to join him. They went to Aberdeen where they held a meeting to decide what to do next.