A Visit to Dunnottar Castle on the Aberdeenshire Coast
Perched on a rugged clifftop overlooking the North Sea, Dunnottar Castle is a jewel of Aberdeenshire’s coastline. Steeped in history, this stunning medieval fortress provides an unforgettable experience for all who visit. As you make your way along the beautiful coastal walkways towards the castle, you cannot help but be captivated by its breathtaking scenery and majestic presence.
Upon your arrival at Dunnottar Castle, you’ll discover a site that has played an integral role in Scotland’s history, dating as far back as the Early Middle Ages. Over the centuries, the castle has been a stronghold for many noble families, played a part in the Scottish Wars of Independence, and even served as the hiding place for the Scottish Crown Jewels. Each step you take within its ancient walls unveils a story of intrigue, battles, and determination.
Embarking on a journey to explore the nooks and crannies of this remarkable fortress, you’ll encounter a fascinating mix of crumbling walls and well-preserved structures. Stroll through the atmospheric ruins, and you’ll soon develop a deep appreciation for the formidable past that makes Dunnottar Castle a must-visit destination on the Aberdeenshire coast.
It is believed that the Picts, a group of Iron Age Celtic-speaking people, first settled in this area. As you explore the castle grounds, you can imagine the tribal inhabitants of the time. After the Picts, the fortress saw the establishment of a Christian community that thrived here until the 9th century.
In the 12th century, Dunnottar Castle was built as a defensive fortification. Its strategic location atop a 50-metre-high cliff made it easy to spot and ward off potential invaders. The first stone castle was constructed in the 13th century, during Scotland’s Wars of Independence, and offered protection and security to the Scottish Crown Jewels.
With its long history, many significant events have taken place at Dunnottar Castle:
Battle of Dunnottar (1297): The castle faced a tense two-month siege during the Scottish Wars of Independence. It was captured and recaptured by the English and Scottish forces in a tumultuous back and forth during this time.
Scotland’s Crown Jewels (1651-1660): Dunnottar Castle played a vital role in safeguarding Scotland’s Crown Jewels from Cromwell’s forces. The castle was besieged once more, but the Crown Jewels were safely smuggled away and returned following the restoration of the monarchy.
A Royal Prison (1658-1661): Throughout its history, the castle has had notable prisoners. Among them were four ministers, known as the “Dunnottar Covenanters,” who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
As you walk through the castle grounds, you can immerse yourself in the remarkable events that have taken place here, shaping the course of Scottish history.