Day 5: 15 August 2019 Craigievar Castle
We left Alford to the next place of interest on our list. Craigievar Castle. The views along the road was stunning and I tried to stop as often as I could.
Craigievar Castle is a pinkish harled castle or fortified country house 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It was the seat of Clan Sempill, and the Forbes family resided here for 350 years until 1963 when the property was given to the National Trust for Scotland by William Forbes-Sempill, 19th Lord Sempill in the 1960s.
The setting is among scenic rolling foothills of the Grampian Mountains, the contrast of its massive lower story structure to the finely sculpted multiple turrets, gargoyles, and high corbelling work to create a classic fairytale appearance.
An excellent example of the original Scottish Baronial architecture, the seven-story castle was completed in 1626 by the Aberdonian merchant William Forbes, ancestor of the Forbes baronets of Craigievar and brother of the Bishop of Aberdeen, Patrick Forbes of Corse Castle. Forbes purchased the partially completed structure from the impoverished Mortimer family in the year 1610. He arranged for the continued construction, completing it in 1625 or 1626.
Forbes was nicknamed Danzig Willy and Willy the Merchant due to his international trading success with the Baltic states.
By the early 1800s, the tower had fallen into decay. Sir John Forbes had considered demolishing it. He consulted the Aberdeen city architect John Smith who advised against that course of action, stating the tower was: one of the finest specimens in the Country of the age and style in which it was built. He decided to restore the building. Roof repairs were undertaken circa 1826; a timber base covered with slates was used. At about the same time, the towers were altered and raised, and a new entrance door was put in subsequently restoring it to the original entrance.
Re-construction of almost the entire top floor was also completed. The windows, external harling, and pointing were replaced. It is likely Smith also designed the Gardeners cottage.
The castle originally had more defensive elements, including a walled courtyard with four round towers; only one of the round towers remains today. The arched door to the round tower is preserved the carved initials of Sir Thomas Forbes, William Forbes’ son. There is also a massive iron portcullis or gate covering the entrance door named a yett.
According to the folklore of the area, the castle is haunted by one or more ghosts.
Following the former owner’s wishes, artificial light has not been installed on the upper floors. This means that the extensive collection of historic artifacts and art is seen by only the shifting light from the sun, as it would have been when they were made.
The grounds are equally bewitching with an unusual Scottish glen garden, two waymarked woodland trails, and Victorian kitchen garden. In early summer, the woodland floor glows with bluebells. Keep an eye out for red squirrels or even pine martens scurrying through the undergrowth.
Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Till next time, safe travels and keep dreaming.
Have a fabulous day.