Banchory Travel Blog› entry 25 of 38 › view all entries
Crathes Castle was built over a 43 year period from 1553 - 96 by the Burnett family. They were a prominent local family who had lived in the area since the early 14th century when Alexander Burnard was made Royal Forester of Drum by Robert the Bruce.
The Horn of Leys, which was presented to Alexander by Robert the Bruce in 1323, is on display in Crathes Castle.
The Burnards, later known as Burnett, originally lived on an island in the Loch of Leys (now drained) before moving to their new, more comfortable castle at Crathes. It remained their home for more than 350 years until the castle was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1951.
The castle is an L-shaped tower house with a modern two-storey range built to replace an 18th century wing that burnt down in 1966.
The castle features some impressive painted ceilings that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, most notably in the Room of the Nine Nobles.
The entire top floor is taken up by a long gallery, a room used for exercise in bad weather and as a place to display the best pictures and furniture.
Beside the castle is a beautiful walled garden, which would originally have been the kitchen garden but is now full of flowers and birdsong.
There are also many walks through the surrounding estate.
For most of its existence Drum Castle was the home of the Irvine family. Their changing needs have resulted in the current form of the castle, which incorporates major architectural features from the medieval, Jacobean and Victorian periods.
The earliest part of the castle is a late 13th century tower house, one of the oldest in Scotland. In 1323, William de Irwyn was granted the charter of the Barony of Drum and also given the Tower of Drum. Three centuries later the tower house could no longer offer the standard of accommodation required and in 1619, the 9th laird, moved into a new mansion that he built alongside the now neglected tower.
During the Civil War the 10th laird and his sons were supporters of Charles I in a region where most were Covenanters. By the end of the war the castle had been besieged and captured twice and garrisoned four times.
During the 19th century more additions and modifications were made to the castle. These included an extension on the north side of the mansion which provided more space and also connected the mansion to the old tower. A hole was knocked through the massive walls of the previously empty tower so that the first floor could be converted into a library. The library is only accessible through the house, while the rest of the tower is only accessible from outside in the garden.
The castle was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1975.