Monday, February 02, 2009

Rait Castle (and inadequate leglislation)

Rait Castle, a mile south of Nairn, is the best surviving example of a Scottish hall castle and yet in the last twenty years or more nothing has been done to protect this unique 800 year old structure. I took a walk up there yesterday. The owners have done a certain amount of shrub clearance, (I am told that more is planned) and with the foliage now at its thinnest you can get an idea of how the buildings within the protective barmkin wall might have looked when the castle was abandoned in the 15th century. But it is damage to the building itself that really concerns me: trees grow out of the wallheads, their roots boring into the handiwork of those who probably also built Barevan Kirk and some of Kinloss Abbey.

Some ten years ago I put up a site, provocatively titled Save Rait Castle. It is now a bit out of date but I hope you can see there why this castle is both historically important and architecturally impressive. There is also a good ghost story.

Why has nothing been done? It's a long story, centring round a protracted dispute over ownership which allows bureaucracy to look the other way pleading, "We can't do anything until we know the legal owner". Personally I think the law must be changed so that landowners are obliged to take responsibility for historically important buildings on their land and the state is obliged to intervene to get things done, imposing harsh penalties for non-cooperation.

Finally, and a little whimsically, Gervaise de Rait was Edward I of England's man in Nairnshire. When Edward was strutting his stuff as the self-appointed 'Overlord of Scotland' in 1303, he spent ten days at Lochindorb Castle. During this period his army famously took Urquhart Castle, but also Nairn Castle. Rait lies on the road from Lochindorb to Nairn and it would be strange indeed if he didn't dine, or sleep, or both with his adherent at Rait!


Tina said...

I liked that ghost story. I hope to visit this castel one day. So many places on my list to visit before I die!

Anonymous said...

My family and I are going to cruise the British Isles this July, and are planning on driving from Scrabster to Nairn to visit Rait Castle (for obvious reaons :)). Unfortunately, because its about a 6 hour drive round trip, we'll only have about 2 hours to visit. Any infomration you could provide me as to how we can best use our time would be helpful.

Emmett Raitt

EOTUE said...

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