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PICTURES: Battle to save one of Scotland's oldest castles is won after 30-year fight


By Gavin Musgrove

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Flying the flags of victory at Castle Roy.
Flying the flags of victory at Castle Roy.

At last! A battle which has been raged for 29 years to preserve a once mighty Strathspey fortress has been won.

Castle Roy on the outskirts of Nethy Bridge has opened its doors to the general public and can be explored without the need for hard hats or as part of supervised tours.

Carbon dated to between 1190 and 1220, the castle is one of the oldest masonry fortifications in Scotland.

It was built by either the Comyns or Mars as one of a string of forts dominating Strathspey.

Being home to the infamous “Wolf of Badenoch” all written records of the time were destroyed when he burnt down Elgin Cathedral, making authentic history difficult to confirm.

As part of the Nethy Bridge Spring Gathering, the neighbouring Auld Kirk has also opened its doors today until 4pm.

Trust chairman Richard Eccles at Castle Roy.
Trust chairman Richard Eccles at Castle Roy.

Richard Eccles, chairman of the Castle Roy Trust, said he was delighted that the project has finally been completed.

He said: “A great big thank you must go to all the folk of Nethy and others in the area who have helped to raise over £50,000 as the trust’s contribution towards both match funding and routine maintenance.

“Work has progressed over the years under the constant watch and guidance from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) while financial support has come from them and many other sources including the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Cairngorms Trust and SSE.

Castle Roy pictured in 1910.
Castle Roy pictured in 1910.

“It has been lovely to see a steady stream of visitors enjoying the wheelchair-friendly access paths, standing on the viewing platform looking out over the Auld Kirk and Cairngorms.

“Sitting at the panoramic picnic point, visitors can enjoying the quiet serenity of the graveyard below, or views of the sunset to the west or even Aurora Borealis to the north if they are especially lucky.

“Murdo the Highland Coo has remained a great attraction and many passers by stop on seeing him and then go on to discover the castle.”

An aerial view of Castle Roy and the old kirk.
An aerial view of Castle Roy and the old kirk.

Sitting side by side, the castle and Auld Kirk are ready to host weddings and a wide variety of other events.

Scottish Castles Association members visited by coach at the weekend. Mr Eccles said: “Many have seen the progress being made over the last 29 years and were most complimentary.”

With the hard-graft work complete, the trust is looking for volunteers to help maintain the general grounds, assist with open days and help with routine fundraising to meet all the ongoing costs.

• Anyone interested in helping can contact Mr Eccles at chairman@castleroy.org.uk


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