The trail of Dunrobin Castle’s lineage is as twisted and winding as the A9 that runs along the coast of eastern Sutherland. We pull off that road just past Golspie and look upon a decadent white edifice preening beneath a gray-splotched sky spitting rain. The collision of French Renaissance and Scots Baronial architecture hides the keep’s Middle Aged heart. Sometime, long before that heart started beating, Pictish structures stood upon this hill overlooking the North Sea. A narrow path leads around the castle and down several flights of stairs into an enormous, manicured garden, the kind of thing endless amounts of money can be easily sunk in. A falconer holds court as golden eagles and gyre falcons dart among the ooohing crowd.
I turn around and look at the backside of Dunrobin Castle. It’s such a beautiful, menacing, clearly out-of-place palace. I can’t peel my eyes off the rows of small, square windows, conical witches’ caps, and pyramidal roof. This is the largest house in the northern Highlands of Scotland, and it was home to the infamous Earl of Sutherland who helped architect the Highland Clearances. Of course rumors abound that the castle is haunted by wronged spirits from the past 700 years. What demons possess men to act so untoward? Even the highest, whitest walls would be a paltry defense, I should think. But damn, does this castle haunt me.