Romantically ruined - Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

Beauty Spot

Romantically ruined - Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire

One of the most spectacular Scottish vistas is that of Dunnottar Castle at Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen on Scotland's east coast. It is the epitome of a romantic ruin, high on a spur of rock jutting out into the North Sea.

This cliff top fortress was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in Scotland.

 The oldest remaining part of the Castle is the Keep or Towerhouse, which was completed at the end of the 14th century, around 1392. Prior to that, there was a chapel and other fortifications on the site at least 100 years earlier . That’s when Scots hero William Wallace of Braveheart fame is reputed to have killed an entire English Garrison inside the Castle with only a handful of men in 1297 by burning the church with the soldiers inside.

Other famous visitors included Mary Queen of Scots, James VI and Oliver Cromwell - who laid siege to the castle for eight months during the Civil War, but failed to capture the Scottish Crown Jewels, which were kept there as part of the role of the Marischal family as custodians of the Scottish Royal Regalia, which were successfully smuggled out of the castle before it fell to Cromwell's forces.

In 1717, the castle was sold and stripped of all its assets and much of its fabric, after its owner, George Keith, was convicted of treason for siding with the Jacobites.

In 1925 the castle was saved from further ruin when it was bought by the Pearson family. The 1st Viscountess, Lady Cowdray, began a programme of urgently needed restoration and opened the castle to the public.

Dunnottar Castle is part of the Scottish Castle Trail, which connects 19 stunning castles in Aberdeenshire. 

Further reading

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