Red Castle was built on the orders of King William the Lion in the late
12th Century as a fortress to repel the sort of Viking invaders who had ravaged
the bay in the preceding century. However, it seems to have become something more
of a Xanadu to William who used it during his later reign as one of his favourite
In 1194, William conferred the castle and the land surrounding
the village of Inverkeilor to Walter de Berkely, the Royal Chamberlain. It passed
back in to royal hands thereafter, until in 1328 Robert the Bruce gave the castle
to the Earl of Ross. By this time it had been officially called "rubeum castrum",
or Red Castle in deeds of 1286, referring to the red sandstone from which it is
remained a prominent feature of the area until the era of civil strife during
the early reign of James VI. After surviving the Reformation, despite being owned
at that time by the hugely unpopular Cardinal David Beaton, its downfall came
in 1579, when a son of Lord Gray burned and sacked the castle after a period of
The dispute arose after James Gray had married the older owner of
the castle, Lady Elizabeth Beaton and proceeded to fall in love with her daughter.
Lady Beaton threw him out of the castle whereupon James Gray enlisted the help
of his brother Andrew of Dunninald and the Grays spent the next two years laying
siege to, and burning the castle.
From then on the castle went in to irrevocable
decline, and, although it remained partially roofed until 1770 it had ceased to
be a seat of importance. Its last inhabitant was the locale minister of Inverkeilor,
the Rev James Rait.
Nowadays, with the castle in a state of some disrepair,
it is best viewed from a distance for the varieties of birds which use it for