Castle Leod is the seat of the Clan Mackenzie. The castle is believed to have been built on the site of a very ancient Pictish fort from before the 12th century. The current castle is the result of work carried out in the early 17th century by Sir Roderick Mackenzie. The castle has remained the seat of the Earls of Cromartie ever since.
In 1746 George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie, forfeited the estate, following his support for the ill-fated 1745 Jacobite Uprising. The estates, but not the title, were restored to his son in 1784. The castle was reported to already be in a run-down state earlier in the same century, when the estate was badly debt-ridden.
In the mid-19th century, Castle Leod was completely renovated by the Hay-Mackenzies. Descendents of the 3rd Earl, the Hay-Mackenzies were restored to the earldom of Cromartie when Anne Hay-Mackenzie married George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 3rd Duke of Sutherland in 1861. In 1851 large extensions were added to the north of the castle, which were rebuilt in 1904. The roof was made watertight as recently as 1992. The castle remains the home of the Earl of Cromartie, and is open to the public on a limited number of days.
Castle Leod is a compact L-Plan tower house, built of red sandstone, forms the earliest part of the castle, and may be based on a 15th-century building. An additional section was later added in the re-entrant angle, making the castle square in plan, and accommodating a larger staircase and extra bedrooms. The date 1616 is carved on a dormer window, but it is not known if this date refers to the original phase or the extension. The addition was built over the parapet of the original front, and is more decorative in style.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.