Exploring Scotland’s Castle Country
22 November 2023
With over 260 castles including stately homes and ruins, Aberdeenshire is known as 'Scotland's Castle Country'. From ancient pine forests to dramatic sea cliffs, the region has more castles per acre than anywhere in the UK. Let’s discover a few of our favourites well worth a trip.
Please note many of these castles and their grounds have seasonal opening hours during the winter months. To avoid disappointment, be sure to check their websites when planning your visit.
Perched atop of a 160-foot cliffside drop surrounded by the crashing waves of the North Sea, this haunting and dramatic cliff-top ruin was the fortress of the Earls Marischal, once, one of the most powerful families in Scotland, and has been visited by legendary historical figures such as Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace.
This beloved Aberdeenshire landmark is a history lover’s dream and a photographer’s heaven, but did you know that it is also said to be the inspiration behind the Dunbroch family home in the Disney Pixar film, Brave?
With a stunning panoramic backdrop of rolling hills, set within its own beautiful walled gardens which feature yew hedges planted as early as 1702, this magnificent mid-century castle is a delight for the whole family. Prepare to be mesmerised by its stunning exterior including an intricate maze of turrets, whilst inside you will find a labyrinth of culture and history from painted ceilings to family portraits and antiques. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the rich variety of wildlife roaming the castle’s six waymarked trails from roe deer and red squirrels to buzzards soaring the skies. It’s time to explore!
Admire the beauty of one of Scotland’s largest tower houses, with fascinating family treasures, hidden trapdoors, secret staircases and a spyhole, this castle has a story to tell. Venture outside and enjoy the extensive woodland trails with splendid views of the castle and an adventure playpark for little ones to run wild.
Huntly Castle served as a baronial residence for the Gordons for five centuries and is striking in design. With its impressive architectural features including incredible heraldic sculpture and inscribed stone friezes, this castle ruin is a sight to behold.
This castle turned lighthouse was built for the Fraser family in the 1500’s and was altered in 1787 to contain the first lighthouse build by the Northern Lighthouse Board. Now home to the fascinating, Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, visitors can take tours of the castle to learn about its intriguing and unique transformation and heritage.
Image credit: VisitScotland / Damian Shields
Experience the true majesty of Balmoral Castle. Purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, this castle has been the Scottish home to the Royal Family ever since. The beautiful and expansive Balmoral Estate, boasts stunning vistas and vast landscapes filled with astonishing wildlife as well as the Balmoral Cairns, erected to celebrate key events of the royal family. With eleven unique pyramid like sculptures to discover, you will not be disappointed.
Found along the Banffshire coastline, the rugged ruins of Findlater Castle are well worth a visit. This once, extensive fortress first recorded in 1246, can be found on a tiny peninsula with a 50-foot drop to the sea below.
Findlater Castle is located off narrow coastal paths and cliff edges which can be dangerous. Keep to the path, stay away from cliff edges and do not take any unnecessary risks.
Image Credit: VisitScotland / Damian Shields
This is just a small glimpse into Scotland’s Castle Country, with so many to discover throughout the region why not check out our website to learn more?
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