Urquhart Castle dominates a rocky peninsula overlooking Loch Ness and has superb views along the Loch. There has been a stronghold on this site for at least 1,500 years, and there is archaeological evidence – vitrified (fused) rock and fragments of a silver Pictish brooch – which hints at Pictish occupation around 500 – 900 AD.
The lines of medieval fortifications along and around the summit likely follow the same contours as the early timber fortifications of the Pictish fort.
The earliest reference to Urquhart appears in St Adomnán’s Life of St Columba, written in the late 600s. Around 580AD, St Columba made the long journey from his Iona monastery to the court of Bridei, king of the Picts, at Inverness. As he was travelling along Loch Ness, Columba was summoned to visit an elderly Pictish nobleman at Airdchartdan (Urquhart), who was close to death. During his visit Columba baptized the nobleman (Emchath) and his entire household. Emchath’s residence probably stood on the site of the earliest castle.