For one glorious day, Craignethan Castle in Scotland must have felt like it did during the old days—the site of an epic battle, with heroic forces facing off for control of each hall and turret! During the dark ages, the competing forces would be armored knights, but in our modern era the warriors are even more exciting: a group of tourists and one "very angry badger."
The castle's tunnel was closed the week of Sunday, April 8, due to a badger conflict.
Historic Scotland, the organization that oversees the castle, hatched a plan to entice the badger out of its hidey-hole with cat food. Unfortunately, they didn't manage to lure it back to the wilds until it had already "dug through loose soil and stonework, leaving behind a mess." The BBC reported that the combative badger "wandered" into the castle from the nearby woods, though it seems just as likely the beast was making an intentional choice to invade the castle and become a Lord.
Though the badger is gone, visitors won't be able to enjoy the tunnel for a little while longer.
Scotland's national newspaper,The Scotsman, reports the tunnel will remain off limits until it can be cleaned and otherwise de-badgered. The rest of the castle, however, will carry on as usual — as long as a certain someone doesn't return for revenge.
If the badger wanted to take over a castle, Craignethan is a good choice.
The castle was built in 1530 and featured special "fortifications" to protect it from artillery, a state-of-the-art development for its time. At one point, the castle also had a very nice rampart, though it was destroyed in 1579 and is now seen only as a ruin.
And if you're a Game of Thrones fan, the castle's history reads like something from the mind of George R.R. Martin.
The opening of the castle's history on Wikipedia reads:
The barony of Draffane, in which Craignethan was located, was a property of the Black Douglases until their forfeiture in 1455. The land was granted to the Hamilton family, and in 1530 was given by James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran to his illegitimate son James Hamilton of Finnart.
James Hamilton of Finnart had travelled in Europe, and had become an accomplished architect and military engineer. Appointed Kings Master of Works, he was responsible for the defences at Blackness Castle, as well as the renaissance facades of Linlithgow Palace. At Craignethan, he set out to build a "showcase" to display his talents in both domestic and military architecture.
If you were visiting Craignethan last week and found yourself barred from the tunnel, thank your good fortune.
Badgers are the largest carnivores in Scotland. Though they're mostly peaceful creatures, they can be dangerous when cornered, scared, or attempting to carve out a place for themselves in feudal Europe. Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky everyone made it out alive.