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Issue 38 - Blazing a trail

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 38
April 2008


This article is 10 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Blazing a trail

Tel: +44 (0)1339 883 635
Almost Disney-esque in appearance, fairytale Craigievar Castle, all pink granite, multiple turrets, fanciful towers, gables, gargoyles and chimney stacks, was built in the 1600s by flamboyant Aberdeen merchant William Forbes, brother of the Bishop of Aberdeen. The seven storey castle has a musicians’ gallery, some of Scotland’s best crafted plasterwork ceilings which depict among other things, Roman emperors’ heads, and a hidden staircase. Craigievar’s charm made it an early tourist attraction and it attracted illustrious personages including Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and crowned heads of Europe.

NB. Craigievar is temporarily closed for conservation work, and will reopen in 2009 DRUM CASTLE Tel: +44 (0)1330 811 204 William de Irwyn was granted the charter of the Royal Forest of Drum by King Robert the Bruce in 1323. His family owned Drum Castle for the next 653 years until the last Laird, Henry Quentin Forbes Irvine, bequeathed it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1975.

It is a welcoming castle. The attic houses a maternity roost for more than 200 pipistrelle bats, a protected species, while the old tower basement shelters the hibernating males.

Tel: +44(01651 891 266
Phantoms and secret chambers, it’s what you expect of old castles really. Fyvie Castle doesn’t disappoint, it has both.

One of the castle’s phantoms is said to be Lilias Drummond, second wife of the Earl of Dunfermline, who has reportedly been seen wandering forlornly along corridors. The castle also has a drummer ghost and a secret room within the Meldrum Tower, where – according to legend – workmen found a skeleton.

Turrets, crow-stepped gables and finials in the form of musicians create a splendid façade to the castle.

Tel: +44 (0)1888 563 479
Charming Delgatie Castle dates back to around 1050, and originally belonged to the Comyn Earls of Buchan.

After the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, when Robert the Bruce routed the invading English army, estates were awarded to his loyal supporters and Delgatie went to the Hay family. The castle largely remained with this family for 650 years and is now officially the Clan Hay Centre.

The turnpike stair is unusual as it is built within the thickness of the wall and is one of the widest in Scotland.

Tel: +44 (0)1651 851 286

Tolquhon Castle was originally a principal seat of the ancient Thanage of Formartine. In the 13th century the owner was Sir Henry Preston who died without male heirs. The castle passed into the hands of his daughter and her husband, the Forbes family.

In 1651, the 10th Laird saved the life of King Charles II at the Battle of Worcester.

Near the gatehouse an inscription records: ‘AL THIS WARKE EXCEP THE AVLD TOVR WAS BEGUN BE WILLIAM FORBES 15 APRILE 1584 AND ENDIT BE HIM 20 OCTOBER 1589’

Tel: +44 (0)1651 851 440
Magnificent Haddo House, built on the grounds of an ancient castle was home to the Gordon family for more than 500 years one of whom, George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, became British Prime Minister in the 19th century.

James Hamilton Gordon 1st Marquis was Laird for 64 years and with his wife, Ishbel Marjoribanks, developed Haddo into a model estate. The couple, who referred to themselves as ‘We Twa’, converted lofts into public rooms and installed a Gothic chapel.

Haddo House was used as a maternity hospital during World War II.

Tel: +44 (0)1464 831 216

Leith Hall is regarded by many as one of the National Trust for Scotland’s hidden gems. It offers visitors an insight into the lives, loves and tragedies of the Leith-Hay family who lived there for more than three centuries and was brought to a sad end by a motorcycle accident in 1939. Although the late Laird’s mother wrote: “there is no haunting but their home is full of their presence,” others may disagree. Leith Hall has been described as one of Aberdeenshire’s most haunted buildings.

Info VisitScotland – Aberdeen and Grampian Exchange House, 26/28 Exchange Street, Aberdeen, AB11 6PH
Tel: +44 (0)1224 288 828
Email: Web:


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