Cawdor Castle dates from the late 14th century, built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor. An ancient medieval tower built around the legendary holly tree.
The early Thanes of Calder – an old spelling of the place name – were appointed Sheriffs and Hereditary Constables of the royal castle of Nairn. This fortification, founded by William the Lion in 1179 was sited to command the ford over the river Nairn near the sea.
That castle has since vanished without trace. The family had another residence at Old Calder which, according to the Exchequer accounts, was last repaired in 1398. Again, not much remains of that building apart from faint crop-marks.