Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary July 1828

Friday 11 July 1828


From 7¾ to 10½ wrote out journal of all but the first few lines of Tuesday & of the whole of Wednesday. Breakfast at 10 50/60. Off on the dickey of a chaise (the man riding his horses) from Forres at 1 5/60. Forres a very nice little town. Like it exceedingly. Fix on it for Miss McLean’s garret, in preference even to Elgin or any other place we have seen. At 1 20/60 handsome 3 arch red stone bridge (looking like brick) over broad-bedded ½ full Findhorn. Country wooded & pretty enough. At 1 35/60 observed a nice patch of flax. Miss McLean had seen flax often before. Nice land, corn & hay. Then whin [1] moor & at 1 50/60 the witches’ clump [2], a little mount of Scotch firs, closeish to the road (right) & turnpike, & fine view of Crōmărty bay. Dreary heather-moor. Have passed Dalvey, McCloud and Brodie of Brodie and now, at 2, old ruined castle house (right), now a farm house of Brodie of Brodie, not yet aetatis [aged] 25 but completely ruined even 2 or 3 years ago. All unenclosed. At 2 10/60 nice new house (pronounced as if called Both) of Sir James Dunbar. Fine bold coast above Cromarty. All along fine outline of coast [mountain?] , & pass neat straw-thatched village & turn left to Calder at 2 12/60. Pass afterwards Geddes? & at 2 50/60 Brackla Distillery, a largeish building. Well wooded about Calder.

‘Macbeth and the Three Witches’ by John Wooton

Alight at the little inn at 3 3/60. Fine view from the top of the castle along the fine, bold coast & bay of Cromarty. The little river Calder washes the castle. Well wooded but too much fir. Castle tower burnt about 13 years ago & the flooring of the two upper chambers & woodwork destroyed. The corner pointed out where was King Duncan’s bed (au premier) & the little door “that Macbeth’s servant came out at.” Observed Miss McLean, did the woman mean the little door that Duncan’s 2 guards came out at, & to whom Macbeth gave the sleeping potion, afterwards dipping their swords in the king’s blood to make it appear they had murdered him? [3] Grates over the chimnies to prevent the jackdaws getting down. In consequence of them the tower supposed to be set on fire. Small remain of the wall of the old chapel adjoining to which good new house built for the factor. Tower square. Inside 8 yards. Walls 8½ feet thick. 3 stories above the cellar story (arched?) round the thorn stump. Now a wood store. Before the castle was built an ass laden with gold sent there & wherever it stopt the castle to be built. There were 3 thorn bushes. The ass passed by the 2 first & stopt at this the 3rd. The woman shewed us an old rusty coat of mail, Macbeth’s. The most perfect tower I have yet seen. But, says Miss McLean, see Loch Buy castle (McLean) in Mull, quite perfect & not spoilt with more modern building as Calder Castle is. Sadly built up with the great old uncomfortable house the Earl of Cawdor & his family now live in when here. Only went away yesterday. The draw bridge standing but no water in the moat. Castle Kilrah & Castle Darkas seen from the top of Calder Castle. The top covered in with a gable-ended roof. Apparently lately used as a pigeon cote.

Cawdor (Calder) Castle
Photo by
Eric Spenle
, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Left the castle at 4¼. Sauntered about a little in the grounds (the hay field) and off from the little inn at Calder at 4 42/60. At 4 55/60 cross 1 arch (pointed) stone bridge over the Nairn. Wooded nice drive. At 5 Clapham town inn (a small lone white house) and nice peep, thro’ the Scotch fir vista, of the sea. The long straight road down to Campbelton (good village) at Falconer’s new inn at 5 40/60. (Campbelton to Nairn 8 miles & 12 thence to Forres. Our coachman said afterwards only 11 from Nairn to Forres.) Eat gingerbread. 2 little ale houses in Campbelton but dirty & bad enough. No conveyance of any kind till the arrival of the Duke of Gordon coach at 9. Could not well have slept in such dirty looking beds. Off to Fort George at 6. Got there at 6 40/60. A soldier of the 78th (Colonel Lindsay) shewd us all round the fort. Beautifully clean & neat. Only 300 or 400 men there. Vid. Scottish Tourist, 234/415. Off from the fort at 7¼, got back to the inn at 8. Not fancying I had time to sit down to my journal, lay down. Dozed a little. Wait impatiently. Miss McLean inside, I on the box with the coachman. Off from Campbelton by the Duke of Gordon coach at 9½. 5 miles off (right) Castle Stuart in ruin? Chiefly wild common with here & there a patch of cultivation till 2 or 3 miles from Inverness. The coach stopt at Giddes’s hotel. Seeing it a [coach] like looking house compared with its opposite neighbour, the Caledonian hotel, ran over the way, called 1 of the waiters & had our luggage sent over. Got there ourselves at 11½. Had tea. Went to my room at 1. Very fine day till soon after leaving Campbelton when it began to rain a little & rained more or less till we got to Inverness. Our bedrooms opened into each other. Her cousin come tonight yet went to her at two and a half. Staid talking got strongly excited, both of us. I handling her and did not go to my own bed till four.

Forres to Calder Castle                   16           )
Calder Castle to Campbelton       8              ) 38 miles
Campbelton to Inverness             14           )

[1] Name used in northern England and Scotland for gorse

[2] In Shakespeare’s Macbeth the three witches meet on a heath near Forres. According to local legend the ‘witches clump’ Anne visited was where they met Macbeth and Banque.

[3] The real King Duncan I was mortally wounded in battle and died at Elgin. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth Duncan is murdered at Inverness Castle. However, maybe because Shakespeare’s Macbeth is made Thane of Cawdor, the murder of Duncan is often wrongly associated with Cawdor (previously spelled Calder) Castle, which wasn’t even built in King Duncan’s time.

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