Ardvreck Castle is thought to have been constructed around 1590 by the Clan MacLeod family who owned Assynt and the surrounding area from the 13th century onwards. Clan MacKenzie attacked and captured Ardvreck Castle in 1672, and then took control of the Assynt lands. In 1726 they constructed a more modern manor house nearby, Calda House, which takes its name from the Calda burn beside which it stands. A fire destroyed the house under mysterious circumstances one night in 1737 and both Calda House and Ardvreck Castle stand as ruins today.
Ardvreck Castle was a rectangular-shaped keep comprising three storeys. Under the castle the vaulted basement is pierced by gunloops and the round stair turret is corbelled out to support a square caphouse. Despite the small size of the ruined tower, Ardvreck was originally a large and imposing structure and it is thought that the castle included a walled garden and formal courtyard. The remains of the foundations can still be seen and cover a large area. Unfortunately, all that remains today is a tower and part of a defensive wall. When the waters of the loch rise very high, the peninsula on which the castle stands can be cut off from the mainland.
The castle is said to be haunted by two ghosts, one a tall man dressed in grey who is supposed to be related to the betrayal of Montrose and may even be Montrose himself. The second ghost is that of a young girl. The story tells that the MacLeods procured the help of Clootie (a Scottish name for the Devil, deriving from 'cloot', meaning one division of a cleft hoof) to build the castle and in return the daughter of one of the MacLeod chieftains was betrothed to him as payment. In despair of her situation, the girl threw herself from one of the towers and was killed.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.