Rait Castle

One of the most complete 'hall houses' in Scotland

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Rait Castle is a derelict stronghold at the end of a farm track, a couple of miles south of Nairn.

From the roadside, it’s briefly visible from the A939, as you pass the crossroads between Cawdor and Auldearn.

Rait is a 13th century ‘hall house’ rather than a castle, and with six-foot walls it has stood the test of time.

Although ruined and roofless, this particular example is probably one of the most well-preserved. Vegetation now hides the courtyard which reportedly has walls nine feet high and contains another ruin, the chapel of St Mary.

It was altered in the 16th and 17th centuries, and has a round tower in the southern corner and a garderobe tower on the opposite wall.

Rait Castle is a scheduled ancient monument and a Category A listed building, and access is through a large entrance in the end wall. Here there would have been a portcullis.


The Duke of Cumberland is said to have stayed here before going on to victory at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

And according to The Castles of Scotland website (although even they caveat it some caution): “In 1524, when the castle was held by the Cummings, they invited the Mackintoshes here for a feast, possibly a wedding banquet, but planned to murder their guests.

“The Mackintoshes apparently learned of the plan and came heavily armed, and managed to flee from Rait after killing many of their treacherous hosts.

“The Cumming laird was furious – he suspected his daughter had betrayed his plan as she was in love with one of the Mackintoshes – pursued the terrified girl through the building. She tried to escape out of an upstairs window, but her father hacked off her hands with his sword as she hung from a window ledge, and she fell to her death.

“Her ghost, a handless phantom in a blood-stained dress, then began to haunt Rait.”

Directions: If you take the A939 out of Nairn, turn right at the sign to Cawdor, you’ll see a small sign on the left to Rait Castle less than a mile down the road.

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