Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire is where Queen Victoria saw a ghost and many believe the world’s oldest calendar was found. The castle is situated in Banchory on the east coast of Scotland and dates back to the 16th century when it was built by the Burnetts of Leys, a Scottish family whose heritage dates back to the early 14th century. Crathes Castle is in fact a Scottish tower house enhanced with turrets. The land was given as a gift to the family in 1323 by Robert the Bruce and the construction of the tower house at the castle started in 1553. But it was not finished until 1596, due to political troubles during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots.
Crathes Castle remained in the family for over 300 years and during that time there were many changes made to the building. The 13th Baronet of Leys, Sir James Burnett, gave Crathes Castle to the National Trust for Scotland in 1951. 1966 a serious fire broke out at the castle and damaged parts of the building with the Queen Anne wing virtually destroyed.
Not all was lost and many of the treasures of Crathes castle survived. Inside the house many of the rooms still have their original decor including spectacular painted ceilings. There are family portraits, period furniture and a splendid oak panelled ‘Long Gallery.’
Inside the walled garden, visitors can see the herbaceous borders, beautifully manicured lawns and the historic Yew hedges and wonderfully colourful glasshouses. There is something of beauty to see in the gardens all the year round.
The estate is home to some of the native Scottish wildlife including, otters, badgers, roe deer and kingfishers. Visitors can follow the woodland trails taking them out into the Scottish countryside.
Crathes Castle is open to the public all year around and accessibility is good to the lower floors. However, due to the age of the building the upper floors have spiral staircases most of which are narrow.
A VERY ANCIENT PAST
Since the house and estate have been in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland, they have carried out extensive research and found that its human history dates back to around 8,000 BC, when farming and fishing communities lived on the land.
Archaeologists recently discovered what could be the world’s oldest calendar in 2013. It predates all other time measuring objects by nearly 5,000 years.
On the guided tours visitors will not only see all the wonderful treasures Crathes Castle has to share but there is a chance of seeing the ‘green lady’ just like Queen Victoria is said to have done when she stayed at the house.
The ‘green lady’ is a ghost, believed to be that of a young servant girl who became pregnant in the 1600s. It is said that she ran away because of the shame. However, the ‘green lady’s’ room was being renovated some time later in the 1800s and when the builders ripped out the fireplace human remains were found adding to the legend about the ghost.
Some visitors won’t enter the room at all through fear as they say they feel a ‘presence,’ others say they ‘feel cold’ inside the room. The ‘green lady’ is said to be seen gliding along when a member of the family is about to die.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Burnside Road, Tarland by Aboyne
Aberdeenshire, Scotland, AB34 4UP
+44 (0)1339 881 388
- Address: A93, Crathes, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK, AB31 5QJ
- GPS: 57.06153333,-2.439919444
- Phone: 0044 (0)8456 439 215
- Part of UK: Scotland
- Sat Nav Postcode: AB31 5QJ
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Ground floor and walled garden is accessible to wheelchairs
- Visibility from Road: None
- Image Credits: Header Image: Ewan Chesser