is a 16th century castle
in the Aberdeenshire
region of Scotland
. This harled
castle was built by the Burnetts of Leys and was held in that family for almost 400 years. The castle and grounds are presently owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland
and are open to the public.
Crathes sits on land given as a gift to the Burnett of Leys family by King Robert the Bruce
In the 14th and 15th century the Burnett of Leys built a fortress of timbers on an island they made in the middle of a nearby bog. This method of fortiification, known as a crannog, was common in the Late Middle Ages. Construction of the current tower house of Crathes Castle was begun in 1553 but delayed several times during its construction due to political problems during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots.
It was completed in 1596 by Alexander Burnett of Leys, and an additional wing added in 18th century. Alexander Burnett, who completed the construction of Crathes, began a new project, the early 17th century reconstruction of nearby Muchalls Castle. That endeavour was completed by his son, Sir Thomas Burnett. Crathes Castle served as the ancestral seat of the Burnetts of Leys until gifted to the National Trust for Scotland by the 13th Baronet of Leys, Sir James Burnett in 1951. A fire damaged portions of the castle (in particular the Queen Anne wing) in 1966. Another historically important structure in this region linked to the Burnett of Leys family is Monboddo House.
The castle contains a significant collection of portraits, and intriguing original Jacobean
painted ceilings survive in several rooms: the Chamber of the Muses
, the Chamber of Nine Worthies
and the Green Lady's Room
. The last of these is said to be haunted by a green lady. A green smoke or mist is said to have been seen by visitors. The ancient jewelled ivory Horn of Leys
residing in the great hall above the fireplace, was gifted to the Burnetts by the king along with the castle grounds in 1323
Garden and grounds
The castle estate contains 530 acres (2.1 km²) of woodlands and fields, including nearly four acres (16,000 m²) of walled garden
. Within the walled garden are wondrous gravel paths laden with surrounding specimen plants mostly in herbaceous borders
. Many of the plants are labelled with taxonomic descriptions, providing the visitor with a rich educational experience. There is also a perfectly manicured grass croquet court at a higher terraced level within the walled garden. Ancient topiary
hedges of Irish yew dating from 1702 separate the gardens into eight themed areas. Today, Crathes and its grounds are open to tourists throughout the year. A visitors centre provides information about the castle and its surroundings. There is a tea shop on site, climbing wall, as well as a car park.
Nigel Tranter, The Fortified House in Scotland five volumes, (1962-1971)
Ghost stories of Crathes Castle