HISTORY AND HAUNTINGS OF ARDVRECK CASTLE AND CALDA HOUSE

Ardvreck Castle and Calda house are sat within a few minutes walk from eachother. Alot of visitors pay more attention to the castle so if you want a quieter wander Calda House may be better for you and personally I think holds tad more energy.

ARDVECK CASTLE

The ruins of Ardvreck Castle stand on a rocky promontory at the edge of Loch Assynt. Built towards the end of the 15th century it was the seat of the MacLeods of Assynt (Scottish Gaelic: Asainte). Originally a three or four storey rectangular building it was later extended and the accommodation improved with the addition of a tower. Like many Scottish castles Ardvreck has a dark and troublesome history. It has been the site of sieges, murders and executions involving inter-MacLeod fighting as well as battles with traditional enemies. It was the place where James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, was imprisoned in 1650 after defeat at the Battle of Carbisdale. He met a very grisly end after being transported to Edinburgh where he was executed on 21 May 1650, by hanging, drawing and quartering. Ardvreck Castle was lost to the MacLeods in 1672 when the MacKenzies took the Castle after a 14 day siege.

Ghosts

Ghosts include that of the weeping daughter of a MacLeod chief. She took her own life by throwing herself from a window of the castle and drowned in Loch Assynt after being fooled into marrying the Devil. It was said to have been part of a pact entered into in order to save the castle for her father. It is reported that she can be seen walking along the beach close to the castle. When the mists shroud the Loch some claim that her presence can still be heard by the sounds of heart rending sobs that are both unsettling and fill those that hear it with overwhelming sorrow. There is a variation in this story of MacLeod’s lost daughter, Eimhir, and her continued presence at Loch Assynt. There are some who hold to the story that instead of leaping to her death, she survived and hid in the caves under the Loch. Where she remained in hiding from the devil to whom she was betrothed. This new existence under the water led to her transformation into a mermaid and so becoming the elusive creature in the Loch known as the ‘Mermaid of Assynt’. When the level of the water in the Loch rises, it is said that it is because of her tears being shed in lament for her previous life. Rather than a mermaid others describe the creature as a Selkie which is a Scottish mythological creature capable of shapeshifting and taking another form. Scottish castles, however, tend to offer more than one ghostly apparition. So those visiting Ardvreck Castle, who do not hear or see the ghost of the daughter of MacLeod, might just catch a glimpse of another ghost who wanders the ruins. That of a mysterious man dressed all in grey who has been suggested to be the ghost of the unfortunate executed Marquis of Montrose or someone forever damned for being involved in his betrayal.

CALDA HOUSE

The ruins of Calda House once belonged to mackenzie clan ruined due fire…

One legend says that the Mackenzie family had a gathering there one Saturday and that the celebrations continued past midnight into the Sabbath. At some point a fire broke out, possibly caused by a lightning strike, and all the inhabitants perished as the house burned to the ground. The fire was attributed to an act of divine wrath as the family had been merry-making on a Sunday. Stories are told about a survivor, a piper, who was spared the flames because he refused to play the pipes past the midnight hour.

The other, more reasonable account of the fire says that amid mounting debts, the luxury loving Mackenzies were forced to put their grand house up for sale therefore struggle for control of Assynt ensued between the MacKenzie Earl of Seaforth and the Earl of Sutherland. In 1736 some MacKenzie clan supporters deliberately torched Calda House to prevent it ever being used by the Earl of Sutherland.

More sightings have been recorded around the area of the Calda ruins, including that of an unknown ghostly woman who haunts the site. Strange lights have also been seen in the ruins of the house at night, and several people have claimed that they have seen car headlights approach them on the road at night but after waiting for the vehicle to pass, no car has appeared.

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