Crathes Castle is a 16th-century castle near Banchory in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland. Construction of the current tower house of Crathes Castle was begun in 1553 but delayed several times during its construction due to political problems during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. It was completed in 1596 by Alexander Burnett of Leys, and an additional wing added in the 18th century.

This harled castle was built by the Burnetts of Leys and was held in that family for almost 400 years. The castle and grounds are owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland and are open to the public.

The castle contains a significant collection of portraits, and intriguing original Scottish renaissance painted ceilings survive in several Jacobean rooms.

During 2004 excavations uncovered a series of pits believed to date from about 10,000 years ago. The find was only analysed in 2013 and is believed to be the world's oldest known lunar calendar. It is believed that it was used from 8,000 BC to about 4,000 BC. It is believed to pre-date by up to five thousand years previously known time-measuring monuments in Mesopotamia.

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Founded: 1553-1596
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Tanya mac (2 years ago)
Unfortunately closed when we visited however a very stunning castle! Gardens looked lush has amazing walks around the area and lots of information on board. Will definitely be back when open
Scottie S (2 years ago)
Had a really great walk with the dogs round the grounds of the castle. It's been a long time since I've been there, really enjoyable and you can get into the woods really easy. Very enjoyable.
Geri Mundy (2 years ago)
What a glorious building. The staff have worked hard to allow visitors back in safely to enjoy much of the interior. Entry to the castle is by timed slot bookable at the gift shop. Be warned though - you need to climb up & down spiral stairs. But for those of us less spritely, plenty of time has been allowed between visitors & if you do catch up, just be sensible.
Sripad Gopala (2 years ago)
Although the Castle is worth a look, the walks in the extensive grounds are probably some of the best walks in the region Park on the right just past the gates and send your way up to the cafe. This is s great walk with mixed woods, farmland and along the water. Cafe is open for takeaway but you can picnic on the lawns on a nice day and follow the road back to the gates for a shorter route back. Great for dogs who love the water. Wellies are advisable if it's been wet
Nick Latham (2 years ago)
House closed but managed the gardens and only had to pay the car park fee. Nothing open - not even the cafe (which was what Facebook was implying - but got a good lunch virtually opposite the entrance at Milton Brasserie) The walled gardens are good - and would have been spectacular a few weeks ago. Also a good walk around the grounds.
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Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.