Friday, 20 April 2012

Rait Castle

A-Z Challenge 2012 - R
Rait Castle’s Girl with No Hands

The ruins of the 13th century Rait Castle, near Nairn in the Highland region of Scotland have been designated a scheduled ancient monument and a Class A listed building but stand largely neglected and over grown. Attempts to preserve it have been hampered by modern day disputes over who owns it. The castle lies on the estates which were home to the Thanes of Cawdor of Shakespearean fame, with lineage traceable back to MacBeth.

Rait Castle
The story of Rait Castle is mixed up with a bloody episode in Scotland’s history of clan warfare, such that large parts of it remain intact as locals were reluctant to plunder its stones for reuse after it had been abandoned in 1442. It the 1200s the land in the area had been held by the de Raits and Clan Chatton (led by Clan Mackintosh) before the castle was won by Comyns (Cummings).

Rivalry between the Cummings and the Mackintoshes came to a head at a grand banquet at the castle. Ostensibly the banquet was intended to heal the rifts between the families, but the Cummings planned to slay their guests.

However the daughter of the Cumming chieftain had a young Mackintosh as a lover to whom she disclosed the plot. A large boulder near the castle was their meeting place and it was there at “Stone of the Maiden” that she revealed the Cummings intentions.

The Mackintoshes attended the feast, each man with a dirk hidden in his plaid. The signal for the slaughter was the entrance of a bull’s head and a toast to “Memory of the Dead.” Before the Cummings could draw their swords the forewarned Mackintoshes struck with their dirks. Only the chief escaped.

The enraged chief cornered his daughter in a turret where she sought to escape by leaping out of a window. Before she could do so, the chief sliced off both her hands with a broadsword.

The castle has been empty since that night of horror. Empty that is except for the girl in a blood-red dress who has no hands and who still haunts the ruins.

Hilary Melton-Butcher's Q castle yesterday was Queens Castle, Windsor.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - different again ... that's a particularly sad episode in history .. poor girl, no wonder she still haunts the ruins.

One would hope somewhere along the line they'll get to restore/repair it somehow and perhaps she will be able to lie at rest .. though her heart will be with her lover, while her bloodline will be with her family.

A night of horror - you're right there .. cheers Hilary

Sheila Siler said...

OH my, what a story!

darlin said...

I love castles and this is a wonderful photo of this one... ghastly story though. If I have nightmares I shall blame it all on you! lol

Have a great weekend Bob!

Jo said...

Terrible story. I read a similar incident in a novel and dismissed it as fiction. We humans have done some terrible things. This is kind of a Romeo and Juliet with overtones.

Luanne G. Smith said...

The stories behind the castles are fascinating. And what a gem of a find. So much drama.

21 Wits said...

Oh my, oh my, turn on the lights! Now this was really bloody and scary too! You weave such a delightfully most eerie tale of all!

Unknown said...

Wow, sad and creepy story. Love these castle tales the two of you are coming up with.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Oh, my goodness! What a story you have here, Bob. Right out of the olden days. That is a beautiful photo of the castle and the sky is so blue. No hands would be a huge bummer, that is for sure; she paid a high price for her betrayal.

Kathy M.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Bob I actually caught your Daphne du Maurier comment at Annalisa's blog but Hilary has been giving you a daily shout out too as you know. Love these old castles and I'm sure there's more terrible stories that have been forgotten.


Tonja said...

That is a horrific story.

~Sia McKye~ said...

The Scots always had some clan war going on back then. Some bloodier than others.

Sad story.

Lovely picture of the castle.


J.L. Campbell said...

Another story with a ghost. I suppose this is why so many historical novels have plots with feuding families.