For centuries people have been living under the delightful spell of Cawdor Castle.
The Thorn Tree
The legendary tale says that the Thane of Cawdor, who had a small castle about a mile away, decided to build a new, stronger tower. Visited by an oracle in his dream who instructed him to load a chest of gold onto the back of a donkey. The spot where the animal rested would be a safe haven to build a Castle for his family. Finally resting at the foot of a Hawthorn Tree, the Thane built his tower. The tree exists to this day, standing at the heart of Cawdor Castle.
The Drawing Room
Originally the great hall of the castle, added in the 16th century or before and frequently remodelled. The last major alteration was the insertion of a fireplace in 1684. Embellished with the Calder family emblems of the stag’s head and buckle. The opposite end of the room holds a minstrel’s gallery.
Family portraits by famous painters such as: Sir Joshua Reynolds, Francis Cotes, Sir William Beechey and Sir Thomas Lawrence hang proudly in the Drawing room.
The Tapestry Bedroom
The Tapestry Bedroom – the best bedroom above the great hall – forms part of the 17th century’s additions to the castle.
The four-poster was the marriage-bed of Sir Hugh Campbell and Lady Henrietta Stuart who were married at Darnaway Castle [q.v.] in 1662. The gilded and silvered Venetian headboard is the original. During restoration, the style was guided by an inventory entered by Lady Henrietta. In her personal housekeeping notebook she added, while spring-cleaning in April 1688:
“In the Crimson Chamber there is an Crimson velvet bed, with head and foot valances both [gilt-]laced alike, lined with white taffeta, with feathers on the top of the bed, an gilded head in the bed, an feather bed-bolster…”
The Dining Room
Installation of a stone fireplace in the dining room on the 13th of April 1671 encountered some difficulty. Recorded by the Brodie of Brodie in his diary:
“…This day there did fallout a remarkable accident, never to be forgotten. The drawbridge at Cawdor fell, carrying in a great stone, and with it 24 men, and the Laird himself. Some were hurt…”
The mantelpiece commemorates the marriage between Sir John Campbell of Argyll and Muriel Calder of Cawdor in 1510. The allegorical design and the inscription in dog Latin have never been satisfactorily explained or translated. The writing may mean ‘In the morning, remember your creators’. Or perhaps ‘If you stay too long in the evening, you will remember it in the morning’.
The Old Kitchen
The old kitchen was in active use between 1640 and 1938. It features a well, dug straight into the old red sandstone rock on which the Castle is built. The rock strata dips towards the west ensuring that throughout the year the water permeates and keeps the well charged within six feet of spring water.
The amazing cooking range is 19th century, and above it is the gearing for a spit. In 1760 it was the very latest thing and was, at least in theory, automatic because the hotter the fire became, the quicker the meat turned. There are many other contraptions in the old kitchen, including an old ice-box, flat-irons, smoothing-irons, a pestle and mortar, a bucket – yoke, and earthenware jars to name a few.