Friday, January 12, 2007

Castles of Scotland - Dunottar Castle

The final destination on our castle adventure, took us 15 miles south of Aberdeen, by the town of Stonehaven (left) in the east of Scotland. Here, about 2 miles down the road and perching precariously on a sharp walled peninsula that overlooks the frigid North Sea, is the famous castle of Dunottar.

Dunottar is unique among castles due to its extraordinary location. This flat-topped rock, with its high, steep, green-frosted cliffs and dramatic seaviews would make a fantastic sight (and site!) even without the historically rich castle. This site was chosen in ancient times as place of strength and by Saint Ninian as a place of retreat.

But if you look past the stunning landscape and dramatic setting, you will find a wealth of history and intrigue hiding behind the crumbling walls. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots and the Marquis of Montrose have all graced the Castle since it was built back in the 13th century.

Mary Queen of Scots?

Most famously though, it was here that a small garrison (about 70 men) bravely held out against the power and might of Cromwell's army - Cromwell being the dasdardly British army - for over half a year and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels from destruction. As you can see, the castles strategic isolation most certainly helped in this matter, as did the passion and courage of the Scots.

Um, did I mention that this was also the filming site of Mel Gibson's "Hamlet"?

Looking for Mel I can kick his ass

Dunottar Castle comprises of 11 different buildings, including barracks, lodgings, stables and storehouses, scattered over the three acre plot of the rock. The architecture here is influenced by the decades in which the buildings were built, from the 13th to 17th century. The most dominant building, seen in the photo below, is the Tower House, built in the 14th century.

Aside from the moody ruins which you can visit (entrance fee is four British Pounds), the scenery of the vibrant cliffs and fields around you is also worth taking in (and it's free).

The more adventurous can meander down a steep path to a stoney beach below the sea cliffs...though I imagine coming back up would be a real pain in the arse.

Dunottar is an atmospheric place that is as rare and precious as the gems it's stoic walls once hid. No trip to Scotland would be complete without feasting your eyes on this historically and aestheticly unique site.

If the photos don't do it justice - and I don't think they do - feel free to watch this short video:

It really helps put things into perspective (thanks to Ross's genious commentary, horribly inept filmmaking and the silly girl in the film ;)....just warning you.

We also made the journey out to see the Famous Royal Castle of Balmoral, where the Queen spends her summers. However, we were turned away at the gate. Boo-urns!

3 said they wanna go too:

Blogger jeff and ross wanderlusted...

I thought the filming was quite impressive, especially since I had to fend off those two old women who tried to push me off the cliff.

3:57 PM  
Blogger KK wanderlusted...

Truly a cinematic masterpiece

11:25 AM  
Blogger Dave wanderlusted...

Seeing that castle was one of the highlights of my own trip to Scotland. Incredible. Great photos.

2:43 PM  

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