Lochindorb Castle

Lochindorb Castle is an example of the earliest stone-built castles in Scotland and replaced the earlier motte and bailey style of wood and earthwork fortifications. Not much remains of this once almost impenetrable fortress that once survived seven months of siege. The 13th-century structure shows the typical enclosure or enceinte form with a tall outer wall enclosing a quadrangular courtyard.

Visitors will find the remains of a quadrangular courtyard 48 meters by 38 meters (157ft by 124ft) enclosed by a wall almost 2 meters (6.5ft) thick and 6 meters (19ft) high. There is also evidence of a later extension in the south created to give the island added protection from a southward attack.

Visiting Lochindorb Castle


The castle is on an island that is not accessible by public transport. You can travel to Grantown-on-Spey via car or bike, but a boat is needed to cross the loch to access the island castle.




Open year-round; visit at any reasonable time during daylight hours

Location & Access 

South Highland: About 6.5 miles northwest of Grantown-on-Spey, on minor road and boat west of A939, north-east of Lochindorb Lodge, on an island in Lochindorb.

Ruin or site NH 974364  



PH26 3PY

United Kingdom

Know Before You Go

  • The castle is in a state of ruin, so visitors should take care of structural instability when viewing the site.
  • Wear sensible shoes when approaching the ruins as the ground may be slippery.  
  • Children should be supervised when approaching the ruins at all times.

History of Lochindorb Castle

Lochidorb serves as a fine example of a 13th-century stronghold. It has traces of an earlier construction of the inner courtyard dating between 1250-1300AD and a later modification of an outer wall and structures between 1300-1450. Unlike many other castles of this era, not many records survive surrounding this once towering stronghold. However, historians have managed to create a timeline for the history of the castle. 

Time Line


Historians asserted that the site of Lochindorb castle was initially a crannog or fortified retreat. 


King Alexander II chose the area as his hunting domain which they called the Forest of Leasnich and Braemoray at the time. 


The Comyns of Badenoch were the first recorded owners of the Lochindorb Castle.


Historical records referred to the death of Black John Comyn, who died at the castle in 1300. Bruce slew Black John's son at Dumfries.

-1303 (King Edward I Resides in Castle)

Edward I of England returned from Flander to defeat Wallace and invaded Scotland. He took up residence in Lochindorb Castle. Edward of 'the longshanks' placed draconian conditions as he forced the North kingdoms to submit to his rule. Inverness, Nairn, Forres and Elgin surrendered to his forces, and after a lengthy siege, Castle Urqhart surrendered to King Edward.

-1303-1306 (Modifications Made)

Historians speculate Edward I entirely rebuilt or made extensive modifications to the castle. The irregular shape and curtain walls and towers that were bell-shaped at the base show strong Edwardian architectural influences. One of the last surviving Scottish 'yetts" or iron gate of Lochindorb Castle remains in Cawdor Castle to this day. 


The grandson of Black John reclaimed the castle until his death, marking the end of the direct line of one of the most potent Scottish families. 

-1335 (Siege)

Sir Andrew Moray laid siege to Lochindorb. A civil war was at its peak with the rival claims between David Bruce and Edward Baliol to Scotland's throne. The Earl of Athol was slain while laying siege to Kildrummy Castle, the seat of Christan Bruce. The Earl of Athol's wife fled to Lochindorb Castle, which was then under siege by Moray for seven months.

-1336 (Moray's Escape)

King Edward came to the castle with 500 horsemen and had no success in his attempt to crush Moray by Morays escape through the surrounding forest's intricacies. Legend states that Moray would not be hurried when the army approached and instead calmly finished his prayers and had part of his armour repaired before fleeing. 


The castle was the scene for the imprisonment and death of William Bullock, the turncoat once chamberlain of Balliol. When he fell out of favour, they imprisoned him in the water-pit dungeon of Lochindorb, where he died of cold and hunger. 

-1342-1367 (State Prison)

For twenty-five years, Lochindorb functioned as a state prison until 1367, when David II granted the castle to Symon Reid, Constable of Edinburgh Castle.


King Robert II granted the lands and forest of Badenoch to his son, Alexander, Earl of Buchan. This fierce and evil man was named the 'Wolfe of Badenoch.' The Wolfe had bitter dealings with the church and often seized the wealth of Moray and Badenoch's churchmen. After ex-communication, the Wolfe burned down the Cathedral Church of Elgin. 

-1455 (The Douglas Wars) 

Archibald Douglas heavily fortified the castle Lochindorb and then broke into open rebellion against the King. The family was accused of treason by fortifying and forming a garrison in the Lochindorb castle against the King. The Douglas clan suffered defeat at Arkinholme, and the castle and lands fell forfeit to the crown. 

Royal orders stated that the castle was to be dismantled due to its situation and power. Thane of Cawdor undertook the control of the dismantling of Lochindorb. The castle remains the property of the Cawdor estate. 


John Grant of Frenchy exchanged lands in Glenlivet and Strathavon and for land in Abernathy and Inverallan, including the Lochindorb castle. 


Lochindorb is declared a scheduled monument SM1231. The Classification designated is that of Castle (Medieval), Human Remains (Period Unassigned.)

Lochindorb Castle Occupants


  • 1260-the 1300s: The Comyn Family took residence at the castle.
  • 1303: King Edward I made Lochindorb his residence for part of the year.
  • 1306: Black John Comyn lived and died at the castle.
  • 1335: Catherine de Beaumont, the wife of the Earl of Athol, fled to Lochindorb and took refuge in the castle.
  • 1342: William Bullock died of starvation within the confines of the castle dungeon. 
  • 1370: The infamous Alexander, Earl of Buchan, took residence, and his fierce ways earned him the title 'Wolfe of Badenoch.'
  • 1455: Archibald Douglas took residence at Lochindorb.

 Images of Lochindorb Castle

Lochindorb Castle Lochindorb Castle
Lochindorb Castle

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Lochindorb Castle Q&A

How Large Is Lochindorb Castle?

Lochindorb stands on an island 290 metres (957.4 feet) from the eastern shore of Lochindorb. The castle remains to show a large fortification, spanning the entirety of the island's 1.2 acres (4,856.23 square metres). The only area that remains uncovered by the original castle is a small part of the shoreline on three sides and a wider landing area on the castle's north side. 

Is Lochindorb Castle on a Man-Made Island?

Experts initially speculated that the island of Lochindorb was a man-made structure. However, in 1993, the Scottish Underwater Archaeology Trust suggested that this is unlikely. Although there has been an addition of stone to the island, most of the island is natural sand ridges, and stone banking formation makes up most of the Lochindorb island. 

Is Lochindorb Castle Haunted?

Legends say that the dastardly Wolfe of Badenoch still walks through the ruins of his once-mighty castle. Legends also link Wolfe's death with a chess game lost to the devil. One cannot imagine a better setting for a haunting, set as the castle is in the desolate Dava Moors. Some have endured gruesome deaths in the watery dungeons for certain, such as William Bullock in 1342. 

Who Owns the Lochindorb Castle?

The castle has changed hands on numerous occasions over its lengthy history, reflecting the changing fortunes of early Scottish history. Historic Environment Scotland names the Lochindorb Castle owners as the Cawdor estate since the dismantling of the site by the Thane of Cawdor in 1455. 

Location of Lochindorb Castle

Lochindorb Castle is situated on the dada moor roughly 6.5 miles northwest of Grantown on Spey in the South East Scottish highlands. The castle stands in a loch on a partly natural rock outcropping and a partially man-made island. The castle is ruined, and the four towers have collapsed