South of Nairne
Track off B9101
Rait Castle is ruined 13th century hall-house, altered in the 16th and 17th century, with a round tower in one corner. It was once enclosed within a courtyard with towers and earthworks long since disappeared.
The castle can be accessed from the main road along a rough, muddy track, that should only be attempted in dry summer months or in a 4x4.
Whether you are able to drive to the castle or walk the track from the road, it is very much a worthwhile visit.
~ History ~
1165 ~ King William the Lion grants the manor of Rait to the Mackintosh clan.
The Mackintosh family build a defensible manor house on their newly acquired land.
1265 ~ Ferquhard Mackintosh inherits his fathers estates.
1274 ~ Ferquhard dies, leaving a infant heir, Angus, resulting in the Mackintosh lands being taken over by land hungry Norman's, the Cumming family, who take the name 'de Rait'.
1280's ~ Gervaise de Rait constructs a fortified hall house to replace the existing manor house. The new structure is constructed directly over the existing buildings with parts of it incorporated into the new structure. The hall house is surrounded by a barmkin, which also encloses a courtyard and chapel, whilst a defensive ditch is also added. A small settlement develops to the east of the castle.
1292 ~ The de Rait family, through their kinship to John Comyn, a claimant for the Scottish throne, are ardent supporters of King Edward I of England during the First War of Scottish Independence. Two members of the family, Gervaise de Rait and Andrew de Rait, both swear fealty to the English king at Berwick Castle.
1296 ~ Gervaise and Andrew de Rait also oppose William Wallace's uprising and later the rebellion of Robert the Bruce. Gervaise name is included in the Ragman Rolls among a list of Scottish magnates who at Elgin, swears his allegiance to the all-conquering King Edward I.
1297 ~ Sir Gervaise de Rait, with his younger brother Sir Andrew, attend as vassals to the English King Edward, at the parliament summoned by the King at Berwick.
1298 ~ Sir Andrew de Rait is in England to recieve two documents from King Edward. The first is a letter signifying that the King has committed to his liege Andrew Rait all the lands of Gervaise Rait, his brother in Scotland, presently in the King's land. The second is a safe conduct for him "going on the King's particular business to Scotland," and authorising him to use the public horses.
A great revolt against English domination has now broken out in Morayland. Sir Andrew de Rait is sent back by the Bishop of Aberdeen with a letter to King Edward detailing the efforts that have been made to stamp out the rising. "He can tell you these affairs in all points," writes the Bishop, "for he was in person at all these doings." Sir Andrew travels south along with a cleric, Bernard de Mouat, and carries with him letters to the English King from the Countess of Ross and the Earls of Mar and Strathearn. Before leaving Scotland they have a difficult audience with the notorious Hugh de Cressingham, King Edward's Treasurer of Scotland, who is afterwards slain at Stirling Bridge, and is said to have had his skin flayed from his corpse and made into saddle girths by William Wallace.
Cressingham had his reasons for distrusting Sir Andrew as he wrote from Berwick to his royal master warning him that "Sir Andrew Rait is going to you with a credence which he has shown me, and which is false in many points and obscure, as will be shown hereafter, as I fear; and therefore, Sire, if it be your pleasure, you will give little weight to it."
1304 ~ Sir Andrew de Rait is employed in making a survey of the King's lands in Scotland.
1319 ~ Angus Mackintosh, supporter of Robert the Bruce in the fight against the Comyn's, receives a grant of lands in Badenoch, from which the Comyn's have been expelled by Bruce.
1404~ Sir Alexander de Rait kills William, 3rd Thane of Cawder. He and his family are forced to flee. Their estates are declared forfeit.
1442 ~ The long-disputed ownership and feud for the Rait estates between the de Rait's relatives the Cummings and the Mackintosh families eventually leads to the Cummings to conspire to murder the main protagonists of their opponents. They invite the Mackintoshes to Rait Castle on the pretence of a meeting to settle their differences but in reality, their plan is to slaughter them as soon as they have surrendered their weapons upon arriving into the hall. However, the Mackintoshes are alerted to the danger by a daughter of the Cummings family. Suitably prepared the Mackintoshes repulse the ambush and instead it is the Cummings who are cut down; the Clan chief flees to an upstairs room in the castle to escape the massacre. There he encounters his daughter who had betrayed him and, as she attempts her escape through a window, he hacked off her hands with his sword as she hung from a window ledge and falls to her death.
At Moy Hall Alexander de Seton, Knight, Lord of Gordon to William, Thane of Cawder, is instructed to award half the Rait estates to Malcolm Mackintosh.
1493 ~ Alexander de Seton's eldest son is instructed to award Rait castle and half of its estate to the Thane of Cawdor.
This infuriates the Mackintoshes who still assert their claim to all the Rait lands and its castle. A bitter dispute erupts with the Campbells of Cawder, successors to the old Thanes.
1501 ~ The half of the Rait estates that belonged to the Mackintosh's, now in the hands of the Crown, is sold to Walter Ogilvie of Boyne. The Campbells protest and resist the sale.
1532 ~ John Campbell of Cawder finally purchases the remaining Rait estates from the Ogilvie's. The castle is left to decay.