The historic county of Nairn in Scotland may be small, but it has more than its fair share of unique history and fascinating culture. Visitors to the region can explore the dazzling ruins of Rait Castle, for example, or roam the grounds of the centuries-old Cawdor Castle.
The settlement of Nairn, meanwhile, makes for a fantastic day-trip destination, with its proud fishing heritage that still dominates the town to this day.
Here are 6 of the best historic sites in Nairnshire.
1. Rait Castle
The scenic structure was originally built by the Mackintosh family, who owned the land from at least the mid 12th century. The ‘hall house’ itself was built in the 13th century and was inhabited for some 300-400 years after its construction. From 1596 onwards Rait Castle stood abandoned, but it can be enjoyed by visitors wandering around the south of the city of Nairn.
2. Cawdor Castle
Cawdor Castle has survived over 600 years of tumultuous Scottish history. The fortification was built around a holly tree, that based on legend was the place where a donkey, laden with gold, laid down to rest. Besides this curious tale, the castle is also known for it beautiful gardens, with some of the oldest ones being laid down in the 16th century.
Cawdor Castle, which is open to visitors, can be found close to the city of Inverness. The Courtyard Café is the perfect place for any hungry guests, while the gift shop offers a large variety of memorabilia.
3. Nairn Viaduct
Opened in 1989, the Nairn Viaduct is the longest masonry viaduct in Scotland. The impressive 29-arch-long bridge runs across the River Nairn and the local valley. Keen explorers can find the viaduct close to the city of Inverness.
4. Ardclach Bell Tower
This fortified bell tower can be found standing alone on a hill above the parish church of Ardclach. The structure was built by Covenanter Alexander Brodie in 1655, intended to possibly be a watchtower or prison. The tower is free to the public and open throughout the year.
5. Fisherwife Statue
This famous statue is based on an actual person, Annie Ralph, who was one of the last Nairn fishwives. The city of Nairn has a longstanding fishing tradition, with many houses formerly having sheds for smoking haddock. Most women followed the fishing fleets for 8 or 9 weeks every year, gutting and packing fish into barrels of salted water.
The bronze statue was designed by Ginny Hutchison and Charles Engebretson.
6. Nairn Museum
Nairn Museum is the perfect place to get a glimpse into the history of the county. Situated in Viewfield House, the museum houses a wide range of displays showcasing centuries worth of history. Nairn Museum is open from April to October.