Crathes Castle in Scotland is a hidden gem, and it’s also one that’s full of ghost stories that have been around for centuries…
With its towers, arches and tales of residence ghosts, Crathes Castle offers a spectacular experience against a hilly backdrop and stands majestically in its own grounds.
The rose-harp frontage and Disney-like layout are common features of Aberdeenshire castles. But at Crathes they are associated with wonderfully well-preserved original interiors, expansive lawns and several additional features. From family photographs to magnificent antique furniture, guests can discover a maze of cultural history inside the castle.
The walled garden is a magnificent historic jungle, divided into eight parts with every green delight imaginable, including carved topiary, intricate herbaceous designs and contemporary exotic flowers. It is believed that yew hedges were planted as early as 1702.
The historical significance of Crathes Castle
The legacy of Crathes Castle is intimately linked to that of the Burnett family. Their initial connection to the castle dates back to 1323 when Robert the Bruce handed the estate over to them, but their ancestors didn’t build a castle until over 200 years later. The first stones were laid by Alexander Burnett in the late 1600s and construction was completed in 1594.
Unlike many Scottish castles, Crathes has had a peaceful past. Its role has never been defensive and the fortress has remained virtually unchanged since its construction. The Burnett family lived in Crathes for nearly three centuries, and its use was primarily for the castle residence in Scotland. They left the castle and gardens to the National Trust of Scotland in 1951.
The Ghosts of Crathes Castle
Castles and spirits are inextricably linked. There can’t be many buildings in Scotland without some kind of phantom ghost of history. A White Ghost and a Green Lady can be seen at Crathes Castle.
The popular green lady ghost
The Green Lady’s Chamber in Crathes is named after a young woman who was seen near the furnace wearing a green outfit and holding a baby in her arms. The bones of a child were found under the hearthstone of the oven during the rebuilding of the castle in the 1800s.
Many people have seen the ghost of the Green Lady, including Queen Victoria. However, the exact identity of the green lady remains unclear.
The Lesser Known White Lady
The White Lady is the lesser known of the two ghosts of the Castle. It is the soul of Bertha, a young laird who fell in love with Alexander Burnett. They were planning to get married and she had her bedroom in the castle while the wedding was planned. However, Lady Agnes, Alexander’s mother, did not think Bertha was suitable for her only boy. She waited until Alexander was gone for the night before poisoning his future wife during supper. The White Lady walks a path between the old and the new castle on the occasion of the anniversary of her disappearance.
The interiors of the castle
The main building at Crathes Castle is a six-storey L-shaped structure. The upper floors are a spectacular display of intricately detailed towers, corbels and cords, as well as a Victorian-era clock.
The original entrance was located at the inside corner of the “L” for ease of guarding, and it still has its metal plate to help secure the walkway today. The Staircase Chamber, the Hall of Nine Nobles, the Hall of the Green Lady and the Hall of the Muses all include some of the greatest ceiling frescoes of the Scottish Renaissance. They were made in the late 1600s, but wooden and plaster ceilings kept them buried until 1877.
The designs on the oak support panels and pillars were most likely painted with water-based adhesive tempera paint by a native Scottish craftsman. The boards and beams were painted white, with black writing and ornaments, and were filled with dyes.
Don’t skip the castle gardens
Visitors should stroll through the famous walled garden. It is divided into eight sections and was primarily designed by Sir James Burnett and his wife Sybil in the early 20th century.
It is inspiring at any time of the year, with ponds, fountains, themed borders, flowers and many exotic species. Summer is the perfect time to visit for a whirlwind of color, with the herbaceous borders in full bloom.
Bennie Cottage Bridge
- The cottage has a terrace, a courtyard and free Wi-Fi access.
- The holiday home includes a DVD player, a kitchenette with dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, a living room with a lounge area and a dining area, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
- Toiletries and bedding are available.
Banchory Lodge Hotel
- The Banchory Lodge Hotel Georgian mansion offers free parking.
- Bedrooms at Banchory Lodge are uniquely furnished, some with four-poster beds. All rooms have a television and a beautiful adjoining bathroom with a view of the lawns.
Ravenswood British Legion
- Ravenswood British Legion has a restaurant, free parking, cafe and lounge.
- The hotel rooms include a seating area, a TV and a secure storage box. Bedding and toiletries are provided in each hotel room.
- Ravenswood British Legion serves a la carte breakfast daily.
Crathes Castle is situated in a picturesque location and is renowned for its oak paneling and frescoed ceilings, which are still in excellent condition. The castle is an intricate maze with spiers and turrets worthy of a fairy tale, complete with its own legendary ghost. Crathes Castle is the place to visit, whether visitors are looking for a secret Scottish gem or just want to see a pretty castle without the typical crowds.
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