Friday, November 09, 2007

Rait Castle

Last weekend I took a walk up to Rait Castle, just a mile or so from my house, to gather some sloes for the winter's sloe gin. The sloes were excellent but it was depressing to see the continuing state of the castle.

Rait is the best surviving example of a 13th century 'Hall Castle'. It boasts elegant window tracery carved from single pieces of sandstone (right), its tower still has a perfect domed ceiling (below).

And yet this castle stands neglected. The old courtyard is swamped by blackthorn and trees grow out of the wall-heads, their roots boring into the 800 year old mortar.

For several years now, I have been trying to arrange for Rait Castle to be restored, not for habitation nor for a visitor centre, but just to stop it deteriorating further. At one stage in April 2005 we managed to make a start on clearing the scrub but then there was a confusion about ownership and work stopped. Now we appear to be back to Square One and, along with some others, I am therefore relaunching the campaign to have the castle restored and the courtyard cleared. Watch this space!


Anonymous said...

My mom, Jessie Clanachan Wilson Mackenzie was raised at Foynesfield cottages and is the daughter of John and Elizabeth Wilson. Whenever I return home to see family I can't help, but go to the ruins. Good Luck in your efforts.

Alastair Cunningham said...

Hi Karon,

I am still trying to get something done about Rait Castle!

The problem is still the landowners - who have been prevaricating now for fifteen years.

We have a big article appearing shortly in a national newspaper and on the back of that I am orchestrating a campaign to get the vegetation cleared, the plants removed from the walls and the whole site surveyed.

I will be doing this primarily through Facebook.
If you are a Facebooker could you possibly become of my alter ego Gervaise de Rait – and invite others to do so?
I will then recruit all Gervaise de Rait’s friends to a campaigning site and start exerting pressure through emails to members of the Scottish Parliament.

Meantime I will be updating the website at

Many thanks for your help. I am determined to get something done this time!

MrD said...

Hello. Alastair, I have spoken to you previously. My name is Matthew Donnachie and I lead the old Jacobite Society Circle of Gentlemen. I also live in Nairn and would very much like to help Rait castle in some way. Who exactly owns Rait? I cannot understand why they would rather see it rot than be resored. It seems ridiculous to me that they would stand in the way of this. Have they no pride in raits heritage. We are all passing through history and are custodians of our heritage.As such we all have a responsibility to do what we can to help causes such as Rait. It must be saved for future generations.

Alastair Cunningham said...

Hi Matthew,

YOu are of course commenting on a post made in 2007. But since then, despite promises, nothing has been achieved. There is a Facebook site at
Happy to meet and have a chat.