Achnacarry Castle is the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan Cameron. Ewen 'Eoghainn MacAilein' Cameron, XIII Chief of Clan Cameron, built the highly disputed Tor Castle in the early 16th century. Tor Castle would remain the seat of the Camerons of Lochiel until demolished by his great-great-great grandson, Sir Ewen 'Dubh' Cameron, XVII Chief.
Sir Ewen Cameron wanted a 'more convenient' house, which was further removed from the Clan Mackintosh, Clan Campbell and Oliver Cromwell's garrison at Inverlochy Castle. He built Achnacarry Castle in around 1655 in a strategic position on the isthmus between Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig. With Sir Ewen's death in the early 18th century his son John Cameron became Clan Chief, soon after which his son, Donald would assume Achnacarry when Lord Lochiel (as his father was known) fled into exile in Flanders after the first Jacobite Uprising.
With the Jacobite army's defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 the clans retreated into the Scottish Highlands, with Donald taking the lead in re-grouping them. After this last attempt at resistance failed, he and his men took to the mountains. On May 28, 1746, Donald watched as men from Bligh's Regiment under the command of Lt-Col Edward Cornwallis and an Independent Company of Munros, commanded by George Munro, 1st of Culcairn, burned Achnacarry to the ground. Many valued relics and personal possessions were relocated beforehand, but the great fir-planked 'Old' Achnacarry was left in ashes.
In 1802 Achnacarry, which had spent the last fifty or so years in ruin, was rebuilt under Donald Cameron, XXII Chief of Clan Cameron as a Scottish baronial style home, although this 'New Achnacarry' is still referred to as a castle. His wife Anne née Abercromby engaged James Gillespie as architect.
The current building and the surrounding estate gained fame as the Commando Training Depot for the Allied Forces in the World War II from March 1942 to 1945. British Commandos, United States Army Rangers and commandos from France, the Netherlands, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium trained there. Each training course culminated in an 'opposed landing' exercise around the area of nearby Bunarkaig on Loch Lochy As live ammunition was used, there were some casualties whilst training at Achnacarry. According to the Daily Telegraph, some 25,000 commandos completed training at the centre during the four years it was in use. The castle also suffered some damage due to fire. Several military associations still sponsor a Commando march either annually or from time to time. Generally it is a timed seven mile march, in full battle gear, backpack and combat boots, from Spean Bridge (site of the striking Commando Memorial) to Achnacarry.
The Clan Cameron Museum is located in a cottage on the castle's grounds. Displays include the clan's legends, chiefs, slogans, history, clan lands in Lochaber, and notable clansmen. Other exhibits include the castle and estate's history, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart, known as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.