Michael A. Stecker


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Lochs of Scotland
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Scotland is noted for its lochs (this name is generally used for lakes in Scotland). Much of the west coast of the country is intersected by Sea Lochs, the longest of which, Loch Fyne, penetrates more than 40 miles inland. Notable fresh-water lochs include Loch Lomond and Loch Ness (the one with the monster "Nessie").

Castle Urquhart
On the shore of Loch Ness at Strone Point is the site of Castle Urquhart, once one of Scotland's biggest castles but now in ruins for more than 200 years. The position of the castle is dramatic and commands a wide view of the Loch. There has been a fortress on this point since Iron Age times, but after the victory of the English at the battle of Dunbar in 1296, Edward 1st of England, known also as Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, reinforced his hold on Scotland by securing fortresses across the land, including fortifying and enlarging the fort now to become Urquhart Castle. There were uneasy times to come for Edward, for the Scots were not put down so easily. In the South of Scotland, William Wallace (Braveheart) rose against the forces of Edward 1st and in the Highlands, Andrew Moray attacked Urquhart Castle. With Wallace moving north to Aberdeen and then west to Cromarty, the Highlands were secured from the English. Finally Edward lost all patience and through a mixture of betrayals, treaties with the French and a massive army he marched north virtually unopposed to the Moray Firth. Here he sent out units to quell the Scots and in many cases his savage reputation was enough to ensure compliance, except at Castle Urquhart. The current keeper, Sir Alexander Forbes refused to comply. A siege ensued and men were killed as they fought to their death at Castle Urquhart as she watched from the neighbouring hill. The castle remained in the hands of the English until 1306 when Robert The Bruce became King of Scotland and they were ejected once again. For nearly four hundred years the castle changed hands many times. It was held by Robert the Bruce against Edward 3rd and was subject to various local and national battles and although having been sacked by the Lord of the Isles in 1513 when he laid the entire area to waste, its end came with a bang in the final years of the 17th century when it was packed with explosives and blown up to render it useless to the Jacobites. Finally following the pillage of the rafters and other portable items, a great storm in February 1715 blew down the south west wall which toppled into the dark and timeless waters of Loch Ness.

Loch Lomand


Loch Ness


Castle Urquhart on the shore of Loch Ness