Today, with warm temperatures and bright sunshine we continued our Castles Tour. We headed north from Glenshee then east to visit a selection of castles in the North East of Scotland.
First stop was the mightly ruin of Dunnottar. Located on a natural defensive position close to the sea with a military history going back to the 7th century and possibly earlier. Dunnottar has been at the forefront of Scotland’s wars and battles. Most of the present castle dates from English occupation in the 1330s but it was also an English fleet under Cromwell (1651-52) which caused terminal decline as a function of heavy bombardment. Now a romantic ruin on a superb clifftop setting next to the North Sea. Here are a couple of video clips of the castle: Video 1 and Video 2
Next we drove into nearby Stonehaven for a spot of lunch and then on to Crathes Castle, long connected with the Burnards or Burnetts whose ancestors came from England in the 11th century. This family was very politically astute, developed a close relationship with the Scottish Royal Family which was rewarded with land and titles. Eventually, during the 16th century, the Burnard family accumulated sufficient wealth to build the castle we see today. The Burnards deftly navigated through the travails of the 17th and 18th centuries which saw the castle untouched by conflict or damage due to military action. Notwithstanding the defensive, military inspired architecture the castle was, essentially, a high status home.
Final call of the day was to Drum Castle, a castle long associated with the Irvines who gained favour with the Royalty by being on the right side in the wars of the 1400s and 1500s. The currentcastle started life as just a Tower House albeit 70 ft high and with walls 12 ft thick. However, loyalty to the Crown worked in reverse in the various conflicts of the 1600s and 1700s leaving the family essentially on the losing side resulting in ransacking of the castle and loss of the family’s wealth. The Irvines did keep the castle but lost their wealth and influence.
With the tour almost complete we moved on to lodgings at Kildrummy Castle Hotel which has the ruins of a substantial medieval castle in the hotel’s grounds.