Royal Deeside : Castles, Fine Houses and Ruins part 2
In part 1 some castles in Royal Deeside were described. Here we describe a few of the fine old buildings just outside the boundaries of Royal Deeside.
To the east...
Surely the finest ruin to be found anywhere in Britain, Dunnottar Castle stands on an isolated rock overlooking the sea just south of Stonehaven (on the coast not far from Banchory). The castle was used in Zefferelli's film of Hamlet. Star Mel Gibson was clearly impressed by what he saw for he later played Scots hero William Wallace in the film Braveheart. When travelling between Dunottar and Crathes Castle at Banchory, the diversion via Fettercain is worth attention. At Fettercairn are to be found the distillery and Fasque House, home of the family of Victorian Prime Minister Gladstone. Thereafter the road climbs steeply to Cairn o' Mount with its spectacular views over many miles of the east coast.
South and West
South-east of Braemar near Kirriemuir in Angus is the grand Glamis Castle birthplace of the Queen Mother. Scone, just north of Perth, is closely associated with Scottish kings and Scone Palace is a fine mansion with superb collections of china and porcelain. Blair Castle is located at Blair Atholl, just north of Pitlochry. This fine castle is the seat of the Duke of Atholl. Blair Castle is closer to Braemar than the distance by road would suggest but the mountains between the two places are passable only on foot. (This is one of the walks mentioned in 'Sports & Activities')
Near the road between Royal Deeside and Tomintoul lies Corgarff Castle. A 16th-century tower house, it played a prominent role in both the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. Like Braemar Castle, it was used as a barracks for Hanovarian troops after the battle of Culloden. Later it was uses to control whisky smuggling. It is now managed by Historic Scotland (HS). Not far to the north-east, on the road to Huntly, is the ruin of Kildrummy Castle, also managed by Historic Scotland. Formerly a stronghold of the Earls of Mar it has been described as the noblest of Northern castles. Not far away too are the ruins of Glenbuchat Castle. Craigievar Castle, near Aboyne, is only just outside Royal Deeside. Ballindalloch House is a fine castle close to Tomintoul and the Glenlivet distillery.
The Castle Trail
This is the name for a trail linking some 10 castles just to the north of Royal Deeside. Three of these (Craigievar, Kildrummy and Corgarff) have been mentioned above.
Much of the appeal of castles and old houses are the 'oddities' that attach to them. At Blair Castle, the Duke of Atholl runs possibly the only lawful private army in Britain - made up of estate workers. The Palace of Scone was long associated with the coronation of Scottish Kings, including Macbeth. When Scottish Nationalists stole the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950 they brought the stone here - much to the surprise of the owners of the palace..
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