Darnaway Castle

Darnaway Castle

Darnaway Castle, also known as Tarnaway Castle,[1] is located in Darnaway Forest, 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of Forres in Moray, Scotland. This was Comyn land, given to Thomas Randolph along with the Earldom of Moray by King Robert I. The castle has remained the seat of the Earls of Moray ever since. Rebuilt in 1810, it retains the old banqueting hall, capable of accommodating 1,000 men.

Randolphs and Douglases

Sir Thomas Randolph probably built the first castle. John, 3rd Earl, died at the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346 without male heirs, and the earldom went to Patrick Dunbar, who was the husband of one of John's daughters. The male line of the Dunbars failed around 1430, and the earldom went to the Douglases. When Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray died in battle on May 1, 1455, fighting with his brothers against King James III, who had decided to curb the power wielded by the Douglases, the Moray title and estates were forfeited along with various other Douglas possessions. It now passed to the Murrays, and then to the Stuart family, with whose descendants it remains.

Medieval great hall

The castle in 1804, before its reconstruction

The banqueting hall is the only remaining portion of the castle that was erected in 1450 by Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray, and retains its 15th-century hammerbeam roof, making it one of only two medieval halls in Scotland with its original roof, "a specimen almost unique in Scotland."[2] The hall was already notable in 1562 when an English observer described it as, "verie fayer and large builded."[3] The hall was re-roofed with "spune thak", wooden shingles or shakes hewn by a carpenter, in November 1501 at the command of James IV of Scotland. James kept his mistress Janet Kennedy at Darnaway.[4]

Randolph's leap

To the south of the castle, where the River Findhorn rushes through a gorge, Randolph's Leap commemorates the sort of long-jumping usually associated with Rob Roy MacGregor. It was probably not attempted by Earl Randolph, but by his quarry, Alastair Comyn of nearby Dunphail. Darnaway Estate has a visitor centre and acres of hardwood forests. The castle is still occupied.


  1. Fittler, James; Nattes, John Claude (1804). Scotia Depicta, or the antiquities, castles, public buildings, noblemen and gentlemen's seats, cities, towns and picturesque scenery of Scotland. London, Edinburgh. p. 25. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  2. MacGibbon and Ross, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland.
  3. Calendar of State Papers Scotland, vol. 1 (1898), 655, Thomas Randolph to Cecil 30 Sept. 1562.
  4. Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Treasurer of Scotland, vol.2 (1900), pp. xxi, 47, 294

External links

Coordinates: 57°34′27″N 3°40′58″W / 57.5743°N 3.6828°W / 57.5743; -3.6828

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