Blog Category: news

4 Intriguing Reasons to Visit Barcaldine Castle

1. Ancient, but Still Open

Castles, by their very nature, tend to hold mysteries. As one of the few ancient castles on the mainland that remains open on a B&B basis, our very own Barcaldine Castle is bound to have some shadowy secrets of its own. With a friendly and memorable accommodation service, it would almost be a crime not to stay and discover the thrills of this 400-year-old castle!

2. Voted No.1 Haunted B&B by TripAdvisor

The Caithness RoomAccording to a public survey conducted in 2013, many visitors to this castle hotel believe it to be haunted – possibly by the ghost of Donald Campbell, Laird of Barcaldine.

In his life, Donald Campbell had a bitter feud with Stewart of Appin. Then one day, during one of the most notorious massacres in Scottish history, the Massacre of Glencoe, Stewart murdered Donald with his sword in this very castle.

Donald’s brother, Sir Duncan Campbell, was the one who built the ‘Black Castle’ between 1601 and 1609. After murdering Donald, Stewart sought refuge with Duncan, who had not yet learned of his brother’s death. Obeying Highland custom, poor Sir Duncan took Stewart in, not realising he was sheltering Donald’s murderer.

Legend has it that Donald haunted and chastised Duncan for helping Stewart, but Duncan did not understand these visions he was having. And by the time Duncan realised what had happened to his brother, that he was seeing his ghost, it was too late! The murderous Stewart of Appin had fled once again!

Out of pure frustration at the injustice he suffered, Donald Campbell reportedly haunts the castle to this day. Our B&B guests often tell tales of hauntings in The Caithness Room, with sightings of Donald’s ghost featuring heavily in their stories. Many who have slept on the right side of the bed claim that they felt pressure on their back/legs. According to them, it felt as though someone was sitting on them! Others report odd lights moving around The Caithness Room at night, with no clear explanation of how they got there.

The TripAdvisor survey may have been carried out in 2013, but many are still tempted to find out if Donald Campbell’s ghost still roams the rooms and halls. Are you?

3. Authentic Castle Feel

Our castle hotel may have WiFi access and modern facilities, but rooms such as The Breadalbane Room retain their traditional charm, boasting a super king-sized four-poster bed commissioned in 1898. Meanwhile, The Lochnell Room features an impressive 17th-century Jacobean four-poster double bed complemented by other period furniture.

secret staircase at Barcaldine Castle, Argyll's Black CastleOrnate roaring fireplaces, antique furnishings and paintings, and even a secret staircase! The historic feel of Barcaldine isn’t just restricted to the bedrooms but embodies the entire castle!

4. Famous Filming Location

Secret spiralling staircases. A sinister bottle dungeon. And all nestled in the stunning mountains of Glencoe! Argyll’s Black Castle has been available for use as a backdrop for film and TV shows since 2018. Perhaps one day you’ll see a film featuring our castle and be able to say, “I’ve been there!”

Whether you’re a ghost hunter, film and TV fan or history buff, it would surprise us if you didn’t like what Barcaldine Castle has to offer. To book your stay, please visit our Reservations page.

It’s that time of year again! After another long year, it’s nearly time to celebrate Hogmanay. Out with the old and in with the new. We hope you’re ready for it – but in case you’re not, here are some Hogmanay traditions to get you in the spirit!

But first, what does Hogmanay mean?

What Is Hogmanay?

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year (December 31st) and all the celebrations that come with it to bring in the new year. It goes back to the days of the Vikings and celebrations of the winter solstice.

Hogmanay Traditions

Here are some Scottish Hogmanay traditions to get you in the spirit and excited for the new year …

Redding the house

So you can start the new year fresh with a clean house, ‘redding the house’ doesn’t mean painting it red. It means cleaning it! In the 1800s it was considered bad luck to start the new year with a dirty house.

First footing

As New Year’s Day arrives, the first person to enter the Scottish household (the ‘first foot’) is thought to bring good fortune for the year ahead. For many years, Scottish households welcomed strangers into their house to earn good luck, so the first footer should traditionally be someone who was not in the house at the stroke of midnight. But fear not about COVID-19. It is a common tradition to have someone simply leave the house just before midnight so they can knock on the door afterwards.

The first foot usually comes bearing gifts for the household. A coin, bread, salt, a lump of coal, and whisky, to represent prosperity, food, flavour, warmth and good cheer for the year ahead. It is also traditional that the first foot be a dark-haired man to ensure good luck.

Baking a black bun

A black bun is a traditional Scottish cake for celebrating the new year, a fruity dessert of shortcrust pastry, raisins, currants, brandy, and spices. Scottish families would often prepare a black bun in early December and let it mature throughout the month ready for the Hogmanay feast.

Lighting the fireplace

Lighting a fire has always been important in Hogmanay tradition, representing the light of the sun to ward off evil spirits. If you have a working fireplace, don’t forget to clean it out, start a new fire by midnight, and gather round with all the family.

Haggis, neeps and tatties

Of course, what better way to celebrate Hogmanay than with our national dish. A nice plate of haggis, neeps and tatties for dinner will do perfect for bringing in the new year.

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? We all know this one! Of course, how could we start the new year without joining hands and singing Robert Burns’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’ immediately after midnight?

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you have a delightful Hogmanay and a Happy New Year! And, if you want to celebrate in style, don’t forget to check out Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations!

What will the new year bring for you? A nice holiday in a luxury guest house? A wedding in a beautiful Scottish castle? Take a look at our services to see how we can make your year better than the last!

Got any special occasions coming up? Any cool party themes in mind? If not, why not?! Nothing adds to the fun of a party like a gripping theme and an interesting venue. We’d love to hire out our castle for an evening and give you full and exclusive use of this historic building.

But what sort of party themes would really do a castle justice?

In case you need inspiration for your next event, here are some ideas to suit a variety of tastes.

Party Themes, Game of Thrones Night

A Game of Thrones

Of all the best and most popular party themes, this is one that we recently brought to life here at Barcaldine. Just last month we held the most fantastic feast in the Seven Kingdoms! Our guests celebrated a 50th nameday in style complete with excellent costumes and a delicious feast prepared by our new chef John Larkins, it was like stepping right into King’s Landing. Any excuse to host another clash of kings would be welcome!

Party Themes, Cauldron, Magic

A Spellbinding Night of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Jacobite train on Glenfinnan Viaduct

Did you know Hogwarts is in the Scottish Highlands? Although the Harry Potter books don’t mention it, J.K. Rowling has told us so herself. The films also use a number of Scottish locations for parts of the Hogwarts grounds. But the real Hogwarts cannot be plotted on a map. Maybe it’s next door to us!

Muggles can’t see Hogwarts, but they can still come to Barcaldine Castle for a night of witches, wizards and a magical feast — and maybe try to spot a giant squid in Loch Creran. Of all the party themes we’ve thought of, we’d perhaps like to try this one the most! For an even more magical time, while you’re here, you could even pop up to Glenfinnan Viaduct, where the films showed the Hogwarts Express transporting young students to the famous wizarding school.

If you visit during the summer, you can even take a steam train ride on the Jacobite, from Fort William to Mallaig, along the viaduct itself. Check it out and have your own Hogwarts Express journey! And that’s not all. Not far from the viaduct is also Loch Eilt, famous for a couple of Potter scenes of its own — including the breaking of Dumbledore’s grave on the island Eilean na Moine.

Party Themes, Fairy Tale, Forest

A Fairy Tale Ball

Another classic way to get that fantasy feel is with a fairy-tale theme and a party in the Great Hall. Dress to the nines and throw an enchanted ball with roaring fires and romantic candlelight. We can’t promise talking candlesticks and teacups, but we can guarantee you a memorable and magical night! We’re always up for hosting a wicked queen or a sleeping beauty, so be our guest and have your happily ever after.

Party Themes, Ghosts, haunted castle

A Night of a Few Frights

full moon

TripAdvisor has voted Barcaldine Castle the number one haunted B&B. Legend tells that the ghost of Donald Campbell, the Laird of Barcaldine, haunts the castle to this day. Donald was murdered during the Massacre of Glencoe, by Stewart of Appin. Stewart then escaped and went to stay with Donald’s brother Duncan, who hadn’t heard the news. Still, Donald haunted Duncan for housing his murderer, and it was only after Stewart had done a runner that Duncan found out his brother was dead. Frustrated by this, Donald’s ghost returned to Barcaldine Castle for good, where guests say they can still feel his presence…

We all love a good ghost story, and a nice gothic evening in the castle can add to the chilling legend surrounding it (especially the Caithness Room). If you’re a fan of all things gothic, you could even pretend you’re in Castle Dracula or the Castle of Otranto.

Party Themes, Back in Time, history, Shakespeare

A Trip to the Past

MacBeth, Shakespeare

The Black Castle was built between 1601 and 1609 by “Black” Duncan Campbell. During the Union of the Crowns, as it happens. In 1603, Elizabeth I of England passed away; James VI of Scotland quickly succeeded her, uniting Scotland with England and Ireland. What better use is there for Barcaldine than to celebrate our history and keep it alive with a Renaissance-style feast?

We also suggest some Shakespeare themes. Did you know The Scottish Play (Macbeth, but don’t say it out loud) is thought to have been first performed in 1606? People often connect the play with King James, patron of Shakespeare’s work. So bring your skulls and go mad, and we predict that you’ll have a great time!

Just a few ideas to get you in the party mood.

So what are you waiting for? Thinking caps on, and see if you’d like to book Exclusive Use of Barcaldine Castle for your next big event. It’ll be a night to remember!

Barcaldine Castle

Who doesn’t love a castle? We’ve all heard of Camelot, Castle Dracula, Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Hogwarts, and other impressive buildings of fiction. It’s always nice to visit a real castle to recreate the mystical feeling that we often associate with our favourite stories. Plus, they can teach us something about our country’s history.

There are many good reasons to visit a castle on one of your trips – but why just visit a castle when you could own one for the day? With exclusive use, you can take full advantage of the scene and truly relish the castle-y experience.

From ancient gates, to grand towers and magnificent grounds, here are our favourite reasons/excuses to indulge in your castle fantasy and experience it all to yourself, just for a bit.

A wedding in Barcaldine Castle.

1. To get married

Perhaps the most obvious reason to rent a castle is for a wedding in the perfect setting. Since the royal wedding earlier this year, many engaged couples might be tempted with a royal wedding of their own, and the dream fairy-tale wedding is definitely a stylish way to tie the knot. Where better to do it than a place that was built to last?

A masquerade ball mask.

2. To party like it’s 1599

Even for those who are already married, a party to celebrate a special anniversary would be just as romantic, if not more so, and we think it’s very deserving of such a beautiful setting. Even without a special anniversary coming up, there are still special birthdays to celebrate – and who could think of a cooler birthday party? Castles could suit a bunch of different types of parties … but personally, we’re thinking of a themed murder mystery!

An office team bumping fists.

3. A corporate event

Sometimes an office Christmas party isn’t a good enough thank-you for the team. And they might just need a change of scenery. So why not treat them like nobility? As well as having plenty to see and explore nearby, a castle is the ideal setting for some memorable team-building activities.

Fashion photography at a castle.

4. To take some pics

And we don’t just mean to take your usual pics for your post-holiday slideshow or your social media. We mean that any photographer, professional or amateur, with or without a model in regal fashion, deserves a historic scene for some artsy shots. Different castle interiors can offer all kinds of scenery, from grand and elegant to rugged and medieval, so they set the tone for an array of purposes.

A castle window.

5. For some killer footage

From history documentaries to medieval dramas to fantasy films, we love to watch some drama in the great hall! Even an amateur filmmaker could set their stage and shoot a scene with a stunningly realistic background.

For filming in Barcaldine Castle, find out more here.

Barcaldine Castle and its gates.

We hope at least one of these ideas has tickled your fancy, and we hope you’ll pick The Black Castle for all your castle needs. For more information about renting here, please visit our Exclusive Use page.