Discover Aberdeen | Craigievar Castle
Craigievar Castle is a pinkish harled castle six miles (10 km) south of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It was the seat of Clan Sempill. The setting is among scenic rolling foothills of the Grampian Mountains. The contrast of its massive lower storey structure to the finely sculpted multiple turrets, gargoyles and high corbelling work create a classic fairytale appearance.
An excellent example of the original Scottish Baronial architecture, the great seven-storey castle was completed in 1626 by the Aberdonian merchant William Forbes, ancestor to the “Forbes-Sempill family” and brother of the Bishop of Aberdeen. Forbes purchased the partially completed structure from the impoverished Mortimer family in the year 1610. Forbes’ nickname was Danzig Willy, a reference to his shrewd international trading success. The Forbes family resided here for 350 years until 1963, when the property was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland.
Designed in the L plan, as was Muchalls Castle, which is located in the same region, Craigievar is noted for its exceptionally crafted plasterwork ceilings. Craigevar, Muchalls Castle and Glamis Castle are generally considered to have the three finest ceilings in Scotland. The Clan Forbes family were close friends of the Clan Burnett of Leys, who built both Crathes Castle and Muchalls Castle.
The castle originally had more defensive elements including a walled courtyard with four round towers; only one of the round towers remains today. In the arched door to that round tower are preserved the carved initials of Sir Thomas Forbes, William Forbes’ son. There was also a massive iron yett or gate covering the entrance door.
The castle interior boasts a Great Hall that has the Stuart Arms over the fireplace; a musicians gallery; secret staircase connecting the high tower to the Great Hall; Queen’s Bedroom; servants’ quarters and of course several splendid plasterwork ceilings. There is a collection of Forbes family portraits inside as well as a considerable quantity of Forbes furnishings dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.
During the First World War, it was used as a hospital for wounded Belgian soldiers.
As of 2006, the castle, its estate, and over 200 acres (0.81 km2) of adjoining farmlands and woodlands are owned by the National Trust for Scotland. They are open to tourists during the summer months. The castle is closed to tour buses and large groups, but may be accessed by guided tour. During the summer the castle is open from 12:00 until 5:30 with the last tour leaving at 4:45. Between November 2007 and October 2009 the castle was closed due to its exterior being given an entirely new harl, returning to it what is believed to be a close copy of its original colour shade. It was reopened to the public in April 2010