As something of a castle lover, Aberdeenshire's castle scene is never far from my recurring to-do list. We don't have a region to match it in terms of volume and diversity of remarkable castles. Everything from barely-there rock collections to majestic and opulent mansions - every century and architectural style is covered. Dozens of options face you but here's a crack at whittling things down a little:The Ruins
My favourite. Let your imagination run wild as you weave between the remains of once-great fortresses. Scenes of battles, sieges, famine, trade and meeting points for historical legends....we don't always appreciate how incredible lucky we are to have so many of these relics open for business today.
So, where to begin? Tolquhon, Huntly, Kildrummy, Slains.... we could be here a while. Slains wasn't one I was familiar with until my recent visit but it is an astonishing ruin, perched precariously on the east coastline near Cruden Bay.
Speaking of, there just has to be Dunnottar. Arguably the best we've got in all of the country, it defies belief that anything could have been built (and remain standing) on such a spectacularly exposed spot. A favourite in film sets over the decades, I'm still a little disappointed that it hasn't featured more - ahhh, how did we manage to let Game of Thrones slip away!!??The Mansions
Fast-forward a few centuries and into *slightly* less conflict-rich periods and you'll see the relics from the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries that Aberdeenshire is perhaps even more famous for. Crathes, Fyvie, Fraser and Craigievar to name but a few. The latter has always been a stand-out for me, for the fairly obvious reason that it's pink. Yeah, pink. All of these guys are proper stately homes. Set in stunning rural grounds, it's a look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous of the times. Built more for show than defence, the structures are though astonishing examples of magnificent architecture and interior decorating at its grandest. Usually seen as part of a guided tour, expect ghost stories and family histories to be laid bare, warts and all.The In-Betweener
Although very grand in its scale I think Drum Castle is a spot that covers all bases. Set amidst beautiful gardens and oak forests, it's a little surprising that it goes back as far as the 1300s. Half tower fortress, half stately home. The resident Irvine family were staunch Jacobite supporters and the laird had to hide on the quiet within hidden rooms of the castle after the failed uprisings as Government forces hunted him. After the catastrophic defeat at Culloden, the Highlands were never to be the same again and the grandeur of Drum can't hide the palpable sense of apprehension that it delivers to those that know the story. Again, don't be afraid to let your imagination run loose....
You can read more about my Aberdeenshire castles
on the blog, with more castle rambles never too far away.