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The Chatelaine's Scottish Castles

Dunnottar Castle

near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Dunnottar Castle
Photo © fiosca |

Less than two miles south of Stonehaven (15 miles from Aberdeen) on the Kincardineshire east coast, this much-photographed ruined fortress is an impressive site (and sight!) overlooking the North Sea from its clifftop plateau. It includes an L-plan tower house, gatehouse, hall, chapel, Priest's House and covers an area of almost 3 acres.

The keep was constructed in 1392 by Sir William Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland and many additions were made over the centuries. However records make reference to an earlier building on the site pre-dating 1296.

Much history took place here over the years and it was visited by King Charles II amongst others. One particular episode is commemorated today by the Covenanters' Stone in Dunnottar churchyard. This relates to 1685 when 167 Covenanters were held prisoner at the castle. Many died in the Whigs Vault dungeon which can still be seen.

The castle was dismantled in 1718 after the possessions of the 10th Earl Marischal were forfeited subsequent to his part in the Jacobite Rising. After the York Buildings Company stripped the place of its lead, it fell into decay. Only in 1925 were repairs begun by Viscountess Cowdray, whose family still owns the castle today. The approach is by a steep descent on new concrete steps and path, then a steep climb up on a path - so it is not suitable for wheelchairs or visitors with mobility difficulties. To check details and avoid disappointment telephone 01569 762 173 or email:

Dunnottar Castle
Photo © Jule_Berlin |

Open daily (weather permitting):
1st April 2015 to 30th September 2015: 9am to 6pm
1st October 2015 to 31st March 2016: 10am to 5pm or sunset (whichever is soonest)
Closed 25th and 26th December / 1st and 2nd January

Visit the Official Dunnottar Web site

Celia Ffitch-Stewart is a fully insured driver-guide with Mercedes limousine for private tailor-made guided tours. Half day, full day or extended tours. Themes to suit your interests can be arranged including The Castle Trail. Meet your clan chief, trace your roots, stay in a castle. Airport collection (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Inverness). Services can include itinerary planning and accommodation reservations. Member of HOSTGA (Highlands of Scotland Tour Guide Association).

Dunnottar Castle
Photo © Jan Rose |

It's also an ideal place for bird watching as there are lots nesting in the cliffs.
Some shots for the movie 'Hamlet' by Zeffirelli, starring Mel Gibson were filmed here.

Other info and photos: Keith Clan - Sally J. Smith's photos

Travel Info

Other Castles in Aberdeenshire include:
Crathes - Craigievar - Drum

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