My Favourite Scottish Castle

Do you love castles? I certainly do, and one that holds all the intrigue and drama of Scotland’s great past is Kildrummy Castle. Towering over a watery ravine, the ruined stone walls stand testament to the ravages of war. But first and foremost it was a home, a sanctuary for the earls of Mar built back in the 12th century, located on an ancient pathway across the rolling, high ground of the north east.
Today it is surrounded by lush fields. Sheep graze peacefully where armies once lay in wait for those within to capitulate.
How frightening that must have been – to see the campfires and tents of invaders stretching far out before the walls; smoke coiling upwards from myriad campfires across the fields; delectable smells drifting from cooking tents; and the inevitable din of soldiers in their thousands – bored, belligerent men impatient for the kill. And within the walls, men, women and children waited with rumbling bellies, exhaustion and dread written across their faces.
One such siege took place back in 1306. After Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scots, he was defeated in a series of skirmishes. His womenfolk fled north to Kildrummy. An English horde followed, intent on bringing the Bruce family and their supporters to their knees. No quarter was to be given for the dreaded Dragon banner had been raised. The women escaped, only to be captured later – their story unfolds in ‘Sisters of The Bruce’. But it was Robert’s brother, Neil, who held the castle firm, until the unthinkable happened. Betrayal! The cobblestones must have run red that day…

I wandered the ruins of this immense castle and stood at the postern gate. Was this where the soldiers had slipped in undetected, let in by a silent hand. But all was quiet now except for some quarrelsome ravens up on the battlements…

Look below the castle walls and you will glimpse a richly planted patchwork of rockeries and ponds. A fabulous 20th century garden nestles within the castle’s ancient quarry. It is open to the public, afternoons only, during the summer months. Make sure you take in the gardens as well for they offer a refreshing contrast to the stark, powerful drama of the ruins above.