Shakespeare's Macbeth has ensured that the name of Cawdor Castle is almost universally known. Shakespeare tended not to let historical detail get in the way of a good story, so the fact that Cawdor Castle was built more than 300 years after Macbeth died has not stopped the two forever being tied together in popular imagination.
Less well known than Cawdor Castle is the small village of Cawdor, which lies just to its west, across the steep-sided valley of the Allt Dearg as it flows north to meet the River Nairn. This grew largely as an estate village serving the castle, and much of it comprises attractive stone cottages set in beautifully tended gardens. The link with the castle is very obvious and direct: for example one cottage bears an inscription over the front door: "21 April 1881. In memory of Sarah Mary, Countess of Cawdor."
The core of the village comprises two parallel lanes which come together to form a loop at their east end where the line of the Allt Dearg clearly divides village from castle. The more southerly of the two is home to what used to be the village store and post office, and the village school.
Between the two lanes and accessible from the more northerly (nearest the B9091 which bypasses the village) is the Cawdor Tavern. This is a traditional country pub housed in a building that began life as the joiner's workshop for Cawdor Castle. The tavern comes complete with bars and a restaurant, the former with a stock of over 100 single malt whiskies. Next door is the village bowling green.
At the west end of the village is Cawdor Parish Church. The first church on this site appears to have been T-shaped and was built in 1619. This was incorporated into the cross-shaped church you see today in 1829-30. The tower at the end of the south arm dates back to 1619, though the belfry was probably added in the 1700s.
Internally the church has a pulpit set against its south wall and galleries in the east, west and north arms. Much of the woodwork dates back to a remodelling of the interior in 1904.
A little to the east, overlooking the crossroads where the road for Cawdor Castle turns off the B9101, is a settlement in effect forming an outlying part of Cawdor. A further mile to the east, a line of houses on land originally part of the Cawdor Estate was built for employees of Royal Brackla Distillery, founded just to the north of the road in 1812. Various extensions followed over the years, most recently in the 1970s.
After a period in mothballs in the 1990s the distillery was taken over by Dewars, who have since restored it to full production. There is no visitor centre and most of the output goes into blended whisky: but it is likely that in future, single malt Royal Brackla whisky will be more widely available than in the past, when its availability tended to be the result of occasional specialist bottlings.