'Very Angry Badger' Storms Famed Scottish Fortress

Officials at Craignethan Castle employed a wide array of savory lures in an effort to encourage the stubborn animal to leave these hallowed grounds. moosehenderson/Shutterstock/Historic Environment Scotland
A badger baring teeth
The badger didn't stay long. But he left a trail of destruction in his wake. moosehenderson/Shutterstock

From invading armies to tourist hordes to the ravages of time itself, Scotland’s Craignethan Castle has withstood every onslaught.

But it’s never had to deal with an irate badger like this one.

Staff at the ancient fortress — its heavy stone walls went up in South Lanarkshire around 1530 — first caught signs of a possible intruder a week earlier, according to Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the agency that serves as the castle's guardian.

A hole was spotted in the soil near the castle wall.

The unlikely sapper turned out to be a badger with attitude. He managed to drill his way into the stonework and take up residence in the storied Cellar Tunnel.

That’s where the legend of the "very angry badger" was born.

Exterior view of Craignethan Castle
Famed for its elaborate defenses, which include an artillery fortification, Craignethan Castle proved no match for a determined badger. Complexli/Shutterstock

"Staff first spotted some dug out earth on Wednesday evening, and later spotted the badger on closer inspection," a spokesperson for HES told the BBC.

"It appears as though the badger has entered the tunnel and caused some mess: digging up through loose soil into stonework."

While the castle had once been home to famously fiery figures like King James V and Mary, Queen of Scots, it has never hosted a guest as downright destructive as the angry badger.

Indeed, on April 12, staff were forced to close the storied Cellar Tunnel completely.

There’s ample woods surrounding the fortification, suggesting the badger may have ambled a little too far from his home, spotted a castle and figured, "Why not?"

With that in mind, staff summoned reinforcements — a brigade of banana-and-peanut-wielding professionals from the Scottish SPCA. They hoped to lead the marauder back to his woodland redoubt.

But it wasn’t until possibly the early hours of Saturday morning that the badger left Craignethan of his own accord.

The occupation had ended. The cellar itself remains closed, while repairs are underway.

But now, after centuries of peace, this fabled fortress has reason again to keep an eye on those surrounding woods. Marauders are afoot.