Enjoy the stunning scenery surrounding this fine medieval fortress and learn about the dramatic historical events that took place here over the centuries.
Dunnottar Castle is set in a striking cliff-top location, on a rocky promontory 160 feet (49 meters) above the turbulent sea. Legendary figures ranging from royalty to modern celebrities have visited the castle, a once impenetrable fortress the oldest part of which dates back to the 13th century. Wander around the evocative ruins of this historically significant site and admire the magnificent views of the sea on three sides.
The site of the castle is believed to have been inhabited from as early 5,000 B.C. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II are all known to have visited the castle. Perhaps the most famous historic event associated with the site, however, took place in the 17th century when a small garrison held out against Oliver Cromwell’s army for 8 months to save the Scottish Crown Jewels. Look for information boards detailing the castle’s history as you explore the site.
Follow the steep steps leading up to the castle, stopping to admire the lovely sea viewpoints found along the way. Almost all of the castle buildings are roofless ruins today. More recently, the castle was visited by Mel Gibson during the filming of Hamlet, as well as James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe for the filming of Victor Frankenstein.
The castle’s most well-preserved remnant is its 14th-century keep. The oldest surviving section is the chapel, which dates back to 1276. Save time to explore the drawing room, which was wonderfully restored in 1926.
After visiting the castle, continue along the well-marked coastal path leading down to the fishing village of Stonehaven. Look for puffins along the way, which are known to nest on the cliffs. Don’t miss the Black Hill War Memorial, which commemorates the soldiers who died in World War I. The memorial looks like a ruin, but it was purposefully designed this way to symbolize incomplete lives.
Dunnottar Castle is a 15-minute walk away from the closest bus stop. To get to Stonehaven, take a bus or train from Aberdeen. Parking is available at the castle, which has an admission fee. The castle is open daily with regular holiday closures. Discover the rich history of this scenic castle.