Dunnottar Castle has the most impressive location of any castle in Scotland. Surrounded on three sides by sheer cliffs , the castle was virtually impregnable . It is 2 miles south of Stonehaven and about 15 miles from Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland . The tower house was built at the end of the 14th century by Sir William Keith , Great Marischal of Scotland.
Other buildings were added later on by the fifth Earl Marischal, including a retainers' barracks, a chapel, priest's house , stables and a graveyard . William Wallace captured the castle during the Wars of Independence. English troops occupied a stockade on the rock in 1297, but it was captured by William Wallace, who burned the church and the English garrison inside. Later on , at the start of the 14th century , English soldiers recaptured the rock which was burned in 1336. David II then gave the rock to William, Earl of Sutherland, so he could build a castle.Dunnottar came into the possession of Sir William Keith-Marischal at the end of the 14th century.
He soon began construction of a fortalice , the keep and other early structures that still exist. William was excommunicated by the Bishop of St. Andrews for building a castle on "sacred soil", and later reinstated for a price. Over the years Dunnottar became a major Scottish stronghold. King James IV was lavishly entertained there in 1504.
Queen Mary visited after the battle of Corrichie in 1562, and again in 1564. James VI stayed at the castle on several occasions, and held a Privy Council there. King Charles II stayed at Dunnottar several times, during wars with England, and deposited the regalia of Scotland for safe keeping. John Keith, youngest son of the Earl, became responsible for these items as Cromwell's English neared the rock. They were smuggled out of the castle hidden in the skirts of a female visitor to the castrle ans hiden under the bed of a local minister . In May of 1652, Dunnottar, under siege, remained the last of Scotland's strongholds still flying the flag.
John Keith was generouslyy rewarded by King Charles .Dunnottar was also notorious from its use as a state prison. In 1685 it housed 167 men and women kept in a dark cellar. located under the Earl's bedrooms, was later called the "Whig's Vault".
A memorial to the dead (later erected in the courtyard) is . Other prisoners included a James Keith who escaped (in 1629). Accused Jacobites from Aberdeen of the late 1600's, such as George Liddel, professor of Mathematics from Marischal College, were brought to Dunnottar's dungeons. It all ended after the Stewart failure in 1716. The York Buildings Company bought the castle and stripped it , and sold its roofs, floors and everything of value inside it . The 9th Earl Marischal regained possession of the castle , he never visited it or made any attempt to rebuild it .
In 1766 Alexander Keith bought it but did nothing with the buildings. In 1925 some restoration was arranged by Lady Cowdray. The castle is is a ruin , albeit a spectacular one..
Article by writer and photographer David Rankin. 10 years experience writing and photographing Scotland. David's website features 10 pictures of Dunnottar Castle and 20 other Scottish castles.
David supplies stock photography in digital format and prints of Scottish castles and landscapes. Dunnottar Castle.
By: David Rankin