Rait Castle – A Hall House Design

Howdy, strangers! How are you guys? It has been AGES since I have been here. I really don’t have a good reason why I haven’t published, other than that life took over, and I got lazy. Funny how that can happen, huh? I realized over the weekend, that today, August 11, is the fourth anniversary of this blog. So, how could I possibly let the day slip by without posting something, and maybe, just maybe?…spur myself on to get back into the groove.

In light of that, today, I would like to tell you about an interesting ruin located 3.5 miles south of Nairn, Scotland (about thirty minutes northeast of Inverness).

This is Rait Castle.

A dirt road leading to Rait Castle.
The small road leading to the castle

Rait Castle behind green overgrowth.
Rait Castle

Rait Castle is an example of a hall castle, or a hall house, which Scottish Castles Association describes as “…a long, rectangular building of two stories, usually consisting of a basement plus an upper floor with an open parapet, within which was a pitched roof”. I understand that this type of late 13th-century design is rare and that hall houses are often difficult to identify, as the original structures were usually modified and incorporated into later renovations.

The interior walls of Rait Castle.

The roofless and floorless remains of Rait Castle measure approximately 54’x 22′, up to 36′ tall, and the walls are nearly 6′ thick. A round tower stands in one corner. The building also contains a garderobe tower (a private space that may have contained a bed chamber and/or a privy), but to be honest, I’m not sure of its location.

The round tower at Rait Castle
Round tower
Red and green bricks in a circular pattern
Beautiful tower ceiling
Red, green, gray, and brown bricks and stone inside a tower
Inside the round tower

I’ll admit, I had a difficult time researching the history of Rait. Unlike other castles that I have written about – especially those in the care of Historic Environment Scotland – information about Rait was a little fuzzy. What I can tell you is that Rait has had a few different owners over the centuries, including Clan Comyn (also known as de Rait or Clan Cumming), the Mackintoshes, and, as previously mentioned, the Campbells of Cawdor. Also undisputed is the feud between the Mackintoshes and the Cummings, which resulted in the horrific and gruesome death of the daughter of the Cumming laird – at the hands of the laird himself! If you visit Rait and you happen to see a handless phantom in a blood-stained dress…well, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rait Castle

An effort was made several years ago to clear overgrowth from around the castle, and there is a small movement of folks who are trying to “save Rait”. When Mr. C and I visited the castle in 2019, the grounds appeared to be mostly well-cared for. Personally, I kind of like my ruins to have a little bit of that wild thang going on, but it does seem a bit of a shame that its preservation isn’t more of a priority.

A tree growing out a castle window

Rait Castle is a very worthwhile stop if you find yourself traveling though the Scottish Highlands. I have read that some people find it creepy and ominous, and maybe on an overcast day it might give off those vibes. But I thought it was quite lovely and peaceful. I’d love to go back sometime, perhaps take a picnic.

A tone wall and green grass leading to a lone tree
Beautiful scenery around the castle

Do you have any information about Rait Castle? If so, please leave a comment.

Oh, one last thing! Are you familiar with Bonnie Rait, the American blues artist? She has visited Rait Castle and claims to be descended from the family that built it. How neat is that!

Well friends, that’s it for today. I made it to the end. No small feat for a girl who has totally lost her mojo.

Hope you all have a great rest of the week. See ya again soon.


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