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Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle Scotland

Set in secluded hilly country south of Alford is the fairytale castle of Craigievar, built in 1626 as an "L"-plan tower house for the flamboyant Forbes laird known as "Willie the Marchant of Aberdeen", brother of the Bishop of Aberdeen. The simplicity of this seven-storey tower contrasts dramatically with the explosion of delicately corbelled turrets and conical cap-like roofs. It is, unlike other castles of its time, tall and slender, rather like an upended matchbox: rising from a smooth lawn, it is virtually unaltered since the day it was first built. The castle has been continuously occupied, by the Forbes and later the Forbes-Sempill family, from its earliest days, which may account for its almost perfect condition. In 1963 Lord Sempill sold Craigievar to the National Trust for Scotland.

The castle can only be entered by one route. Potential assailants would have had a difficult task tackling first the ramparts, then the heavily studded outer door with its iron grid behind, and lastly another studded double door on the stone stair leading to the great hall. Inside the castle are superb examples of richly moulded plaster ceilings, particularly in the great hall where a great groined vault illustrates the decoration of raised panels, heraldry, foliage, classic portrait medallions and elaborate pendants, all in plaster relief. They were the work of a London craftsman who also worked at Muchalls a few years before.

The fireplace at Craigievar is surmounted by an immense armorial tablet of the Royal Arms and in the same room is a musicians' gallery as well as the original timber-screen. Off this hall is a with-drawing room, and upstairs the "Queen's bed-room " with yet another beautifully decorated ceiling and a canopied bed. The rooms on the higher levels, reached by the turnpike stair, are remarkably light for a building of this time, due to the many windows set in the turrets. Even the servants' quarters are still charmingly furnished with box beds in arched timber frames.

Craigievar is a "homely" sort of castle in spite of all its period perfection, and fortunately the trees surrounding it still flourish and give this dream-like building a secluded and dignified setting. Located off A980, 5 miles south of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.


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