Braemar Castle is situated near the village of Braemar in Aberdeenshire. From the Late Middle Ages the castle was a stronghold of the Earls of Mar. The present Braemar Castle was constructed in 1628 by John Erskine, 18th Earl of Mar as a hunting lodge and to counter the rising power of the Farquharsons, replacing an older building, which was the successor of nearby Kindrochit Castle, which dates from as the 11th century AD. The siting of Kindrochit Castle was based upon the strategic location of this site relative to historic crossings of the Grampian Mounth.
An important garrison after the 1745 Jacobite uprising, Braemar Castle had been attacked and burned by John Farquharson, the Black Colonel of Inverey in 1689 during the first Jacobite uprising, to prevent it being used as a garrison by Government troops. In 1716 the castle was forfeited to the Crown following the Earl of Mar's leadership of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. The castle and lands were purchased by John Farquharson, 9th Laird of Invercauld but the building was left in ruins until 1748 when it was leased to the government at a fee of £14 per year to serve as a garrison for Hanoverian troops. Rebuilding started under the command of John Adam, Master Mason to the Board of Ordnance. In 1831 the military garrison was withdrawn and the castle returned to the Farquharson clan. Restoration to provide a family home began under the 12th Laird of Invercauld who entertained Queen Victoria there when she attended the Braemar Gatherings in the grounds of the Castle. In 1800 Braemar Castle was documented as having its moat intact.
The building is a five storey L-plan castle with a star-shaped curtain wall of six sharp-angled salients, and with three storey angle turrets. The central tower enfolds a round stair tower and is built of granite covered with harl. The main entrance retains an original iron yett, and many of the windows are protected by heavy iron grilles. On the ground floor are stone-vaulted rooms which contained the guardroom, ammunition store and original kitchen. These are built out into the salients of the outer wall, and in Victorian times a second kitchen was added adjoining the staff rooms. In the floor of a passage, an iron grill provided access to the Laird's Pit, a dark hole used as a dungeon.
On each of the upper floors a large room and a small room occupied the two arms of the tower. On the first floor are the Dining Room and Morning Room, whilst on the floor above is the Laird's Day Room, entered by a curved door. Opposite is the Rose Room, and between the two is a small bathroom installed in 1901. In the main wing at this level is the Drawing Room, containing graffiti incised on the window-shutters by government troops. The words "John Chestnut, Sergeant, 1797" can be clearly seen. On the third floor is the Four Poster Bedroom, whilst on the fourth floor lie the Ladies Guest Bedroom, Gentlemans Guest Bedroom and the Principal Bedroom. These upper floors were used by the Farquharson family in the latter years of their visits.
Among the antiques on display within the castle are a Bronze Age sword, and a piece of tartan plaid once worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Visitors with a physical disability are welcome to bring their car up to the castle and to park outside. The courtyard and exhibition in the cabin are fully accessible to those using wheelchairs, although there is a very small step into the courtyard which may be unsuitable for electric wheelchairs. Inside the castle, the ground floor is accessed by going down two steps. Access to the first floor is by either the spiral staircase or the servants' stairs, which has a solid bannister. Any visitors who feel that they may not be able to take a tour of the whole castle are very welcome to visit the first floor free of charge and a guide may be available to give a brief overview of the castle's history in those two rooms. Audio tours are available and headphones can be provided, or visitors are welcome to use their own. Assistance dogs are welcome. Guided tours available at weekends and daily through July / August.
Location : Braemar, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5XR
Transport: Aberdeen (National Rail) then bus (59 miles). Bus Routes : Stagecoach 201. The 200 is open-top and runs on weekends and holidays.
Opening Times : Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:00 - July and August open daily
Tickets : Adults £8.00; Concessions £7.00; Children (school age) £4.00.
Tel: 01339 741219