Dunnottar Castle has one of the most spectacular locations of any castle. A collection of buildings from various periods crown the top of a promontory that rises steeply from the surrounding sea and land.
Dunnottar was in use many centuries before any of the remaining buildings were erected. It was the site of one of Scotland's first churches and remained an important Christian site for many years before being developed into a fortress.
Despite its obvious defensive potential Dunnottar was successfully captured many times. Nothing remains of the fortress King Donald II died defending during a Viking invasion in the late 9th century, or that English forces twice captured only to be retaken by the Scots, on the first occasion led by William Wallace and on the second by Sir Andrew Moray. These early wooden castles were routinely burnt down during or after a siege.
The most prominent building still standing is the L-shaped tower-house built towards the end of the 14th century by William Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries the castle became much more palatial with the construction of new ranges around a large courtyard enclosing a bowling green.
In 1651 the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Honours of Scotland, were brought here for safety during Cromwell's invasion of Scotland. In 1652, General Lambert captured the castle after an eight month siege, but the Honours had already been smuggled out and hidden in nearby Kinneff Church. The castle never recovered from the damage caused by this battle, although it remained in use as a garrison for troops. The last Earl Marischal was convicted of treason for his part in the Jacobite rising of 1715 and his estates, including Dunnottar Castle, were seized by the government. Dunnottar was sold on and stripped of its assets, remaining a neglected ruin until 1925 when a programme of restoration and repairs was instigated.
- On the coast near Dunnottar Mains, off the A92, about two miles south of Stonehaven.
- Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
- Privately owned. Open to public. Entrance fee.
- For further information visit www.dunechtestates.co.uk
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