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:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).