Totally imposing and magnificent, at the top of steep cliffs in Stonehaven (Aberdeenshire), stands one of the most iconic castles in Scotland: Dunnottar Castle, a must see on your route through Scottish lands. You will undoubtedly be surprised by the dimensions of the striking silhouette that draws with the surroundings, as well as by its important role in the history of Scotland. The mysterious legends that are told about it and, of course, its strategic location will leave you speechless.
You will understand, after your arrival, on the narrow path leading to this majestic Scottish fortress why Dunnottar Castle stands here and why part of scenes from films like “Hamlet” and “Victor Frankenstein”, which were filmed here and even inspired creatives of the Disney movie “Brave” on the creation of DunBroch Castle. For a few moments, you will feel as if you were traveling back in time, while you marvel at its landscapes with the background sound of the rough waters of the North Sea, all accompanied and the sea life and bird species that you will see from this spot. Do you want to know everything about Dunnottar Castle before your visit? Keep reading! We bring you the Dunnottar Castle guide with all the information you need.
Dunnottar Castle History
The fortress that stands before your eyes has a deep history within its walls. Its true origins are not known for sure, but it is known that it was inhabited since the time of the Picts, that Saint Ninian built a church there and that he witnessed the death of King Donald II during a Viking invasion. Another well-known episode occurred when William Wallace set the chapel on fire when English soldiers used it as a refuge. From its extensive history, it is remarkable the time when it served as the home of the Counts Marischal, in which it resisted for a time the Cromwell troops and gave protection to the Scottish Honors.
Among all the buildings that you will find at the ruins of Dunnottar Castle, the one that will catch your attention at first sight with no a doubt, is the Tower House, with its characteristic L. shape. Of course, it is not the only one. Currently, you can still go inside its palace, cellars, stables, forge and its chapel. One of the bleakest facilities is the Whigs ’Vault dungeon, where 167 imprisoned covenanters were held captive in inhumane conditions for nine weeks. We recommend that you go inside. 😉
There are many legends which tell us about the existence of ghosts and haunted castles in Scotland . A Scottish castle without a ghost is not a complete castle and it is not surprising considering the mystery of its landscapes and the magical aura that surrounds Scotland. Dunnottar Castle was no less. In this case, the ghost who dares to inhabit the walls of Dunnottar Castle is the Green Lady or Green Lady, supposedly seen in the castle’s beer distillery.
The history of the Green Lady dates back to the time of the Picts, when femininity, masculinity and the spirits of nature were worshiped. Due to the strong feminine symbolism of these places, the Picts considered this to be the home of the Green Lady. So far so good. But what is the spirit of the Green Lady looking for now? To his “lost children”: the Picts converted to Christianity when Saint Ninian chose this enclave to build a church in the 5th century.
Honours of Scotland
As we have mentioned before , Dunnottar Castle is also known for giving protection to the Honours of Scotland: the Scepter, the Crown and the Sword. A national treasure that has been used in the coronation of the Scottish kings at the time of the independence of the English monarchy. Today, you can see them guarded at Edinburgh Castle, but they were not always so safe. A year after Oliver Cromwell executed Charles I, King of England and Scotland, his son, Charles II, spent a night in Dunnottar. At that time he was trying to reconquer his father’s kingdoms, after being crowned at Scone, which would cause Cromwell to order the invasion of Scotland.
When Edinburgh was conquered by the English, Charles II gave the order to bring the Honors to Dunnottar to protect them. Despite having only 70 men as its defense, Dunnottar managed to resist Cromwell’s troops for 8 months. But the resistance was not infinite and they ended up entering the castle. But not everything is negative to the Scots in this story. When Cromwell’s troops besieged the castle, they found it impossible to fulfill their objective of confiscating and destroying the Honors. The Scots had managed to take them out from the castle with great trick and remained buried near the church of Kineff until the return of the monarchy.
Where is Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle is strategically located on top of a cliff in Stonehaven (Aberdeenshire), about 25 km from Aberdeen. Its location there is not by chance. On one hand, being located on top of a cliff, it allowed the castle occupiers to control maritime routes and avoid attacks by sea. On the other hand, it was located near the only medieval land route on the coast that led to Aberdeen controlling who could pass through there. These details make the castle a really valuable stronghold to control the area , but these difficulties to get to the castle should not make you give up visiting this wonderful place, because, today, getting access to the castle is easy and you can do it by car, public transport or even on foot. Are you in Edinburgh and don’t want to miss the chance to visit it? Visiting Dunnottar Castle from Edinburgh on our Scottish Castles tour is really easy and comfortable.
Visita al Castillo de Dunnottar
As you can see, the visit to Dunnottar Castle will not leave you indifferent at all. It will take you with you, not only a pleasant memory of one of the most amazing fortifications in Scotland, but also the feeling of immersing yourself for a few moments in a bygone era. We suggest you soak up all the history that the numerous explanatory posters that you will find in the area bring you, merge with nature for a few moments and try to look for some of the beautiful animals that inhabit the area, including seals. Do you already understand why this is a must see in Scotland? 😉
Before your visit to Dunnottar Castle, you should know that it is not always open and that opening hours vary depending on the dates you decide to visit it.
Summer season (from April 1 to September 30): it is open every day from 09:00 to 17:30.
Winter season 2018/2019 (from October 01 to March 31):From 01/10 to 10/27: open from 10:00 to 16:30;
From 10/28 to 11/10: open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
From 11/11 to 19/01: open from 10:00 to 14:30;
From 01/20 to 02/02: open from 10:00 to 15:00;
From 02/03 to 02/16: open from 10:00 to 15:30;
From 02/17 to 03/02: open from 10:00 to 16:00;
From 03/03 to 03/31: open from 10:00 to 16:30.
On December 25 and 26 and January 01 and 02 the castle does not open.
Keep in mind that the weather is quite harsh in the castle area, then sometimes it will be closed for meteorological reasons to keep visitors safe. We recommend you visit the castle website before your visit to make sure it is open and, of course, bring warm clothes when you visit. 😉
The usual prices for entering the castle are as follows:
Adults: £ 7;
Children: £ 3;
Families (2 adults and 2 children between 5 and 15 years old): £ 17.
(Estimated price in your currency: adults € 7, children € 3, families € 19)
But in LochNessBus.com we have special prices for you. Do you want to enjoy your discount? Ask us!
Despite the many advantages that we have already told you about the Explorer Pass to save money on your trip through Scotland, we regret to inform you that, in this case, the entrance to Dunnottar Castle is not included. This is an attraction that is not on the Historic Scotland card listing.
Have you already visited Dunnottar Castle? Tell us about your experience!