The history of Ruurlo Castle is inextricable from the history of the noble Van Heeckeren family, who managed the castle and the estate from the beginning of the 15th century through to 1977. Since 2012, and thanks to the dedication of local patronHans Melchers, this impressive castle has been given a new lease of life as a museum.
Ruurlo Castle is of a venerable age, appearing in archives from as early as the 14th century when it was a fief of Count Reinoud I of Guelders. In the 15th century, it passed into the hands of Jacob van Heeckeren, the founder of the noble and distinguished knightly family of Van Heeckeren. One of them, William van Heeckeren van Kell (1814-1914), was director of the King’s Cabinet and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The castle stayed in the family for more than five centuries.
During the Second World War, the Germans requisitioned the castle for use as the headquarters of the German General Staff. After the liberation, it was occupied for another few months by Canadian military personnel. In 1977, the castle passed into the hands of the municipality of Ruurlo, which used it as itstown hall. When the local authorities merged in 2005, the municipality moved out of the building. In 2012, the castle was sold to Hans Melchers for €1 million and found a new useas a museum for paintings by Carel Willink, a master of magical realism. The paintings are from the art collection of the bankrupt owner of DSB Bank, Dirk Scheringa.
A large part of the present castle dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. It is surrounded by a magnificent estate with a number of exceptional features. The Orangery from 1879 was badly damaged during the war and subsequently demolished, but it was rebuilt in 2002 and is now a popular wedding location. The estate is also home to a famous maze, which was declared the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of Records in 1996. The maze was created by Lady Sophie van Heeckeren in 1890.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.