The home of the late Captain Hay of Delgatie, the castle has displays of fine paintings, armoury and Victorian clothes combined with the atmosphere of a lived in home. The castle has largely been in the Hay family for the last 650 years. It was taken from the Earl of Buchan after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, when Robert the Bruce routed the invading English army. Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Delgatie for three days after the Battle of Cirrichie in 1562. Her bedchamber is on view to visitors.
Tarves, Ellon, Aberdeenshire
Unusual for Aberdeenshire in that it is not a castle, Haddo House is proud to be the most homely of the north-east of Scotland’s great houses open to the public. Designed by William Adam for the 2nd Earl of Aberdeen in 1732, but refurbished in the 1880s, the House elegantly blends crisp Georgian architecture with sumptuous late Victorian interiors by Wright and Mansfield. Haddo also boasts a terrace garden with geometric rose beds and fountain, commemorative trees, a lavish herbaceous border and secluded glades and knolls. A magnificent avenue of lime trees leads to Haddo Country Park with its lakes, monuments, walks and wildlife.
Magnificent castle ruins including 12th-century motte and palace block erected in the 16th and 17th centuries. The architectural details and heraldic enrichments are particularly impressive. Eleven steps lead to the raised area where the castle stands. The castle can be viewed from outside and there is an interpretation board giving information about the property. Known also as Strathbogie Castle, the glorious ruin stands on the bank of the River Deveron. It is in itself a history lesson in the development of the Scottish castle from the earliest Norman fortress to the palace of the 17th century. The remains of a 12th century motte and bailey, a medieval L-plan tower house, and defence earthworks of the Civil War are still visible. The most striking features are the splendid heraldic doorway and carved fireplaces.
Dunecht, Westhill, Aberdeenshire
Dunnottar Castle offers an unforgettable experience. A dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress in a truly stunning setting. The extensive buildings - from the keep through the barracks, lodgings, stables and storehouses to the less-ruinous chapel and drawing room - underline the importance of Dunnottar, an impregnable Castle that holds many rich secrets of Scotland’s colourful past. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all graced the Castle with their presence. Most famously though, it was at Dunnottar Castle that a small garrison held out against the might of Cromwell’s army for eight months and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels, the ‘Honours of Scotland’, from destruction. Crown, sceptre and sword now take pride of place in Edinburgh Castle.
Fyvie, Turriff, Aberdeenshire
Dating back to the 13th century, Fyvie Castle is located a mile north of the village of Fyvie in Aberdeenshire. This stunning castle was once a royal stronghold, one of a chain of fortresses throughout medieval Scotland. The oldest part of the castle still stands today, dating from the 13th century, which houses a great wheel staircase, the finest in Scotland. Contemporary panelling and plaster ceilings survive in the 17th-century Morning Room and the opulence of the Edwardian era is reflected in the interiors created by the first Lord Leith of Fyvie. A rich portrait collection is also found in the castle including works by Batoni, Raeburn and Hoppner; and there is a fine collection of arms and armour and 17th-century tapestries. The grounds and loch were designed as landscaped parkland in the early 19th century. The 18th-century walled garden has been redeveloped as a celebration of Scottish fruits and vegetables.
Balmoral Estates, Ballater, Aberdeenshire
Set amongst the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside, in the shadows of Lochnagar is the Balmoral Estate. Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, the Estate has been the Scottish home of the British Royal Family ever since. The Estate covers about 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of heather clad hills and ancient Caledonian woodland, with the beautiful River Dee nearby.
Over the past 150 years, careful stewardship by The Royal Family has preserved the wildlife, scenery and architecture which is available for all generations to enjoy. In her journals Queen Victoria even went so far as to describe Balmoral as "my dear paradise in the Highlands".
The Royal Family are still in residence at Balmoral for a portion of the year, with the grounds, gardens and exhibitions closed to the public during August, September and early October.
Sauchen, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
About 16 miles west of Aberdeen is the stunning Castle Fraser, one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses. Built between 1575 and 1636 by the 6th laird, Michael Fraser, Castle Fraser is the most elaborate Z-plan castle in Scotland. The castle belongs to the same period of native architectural achievement as two neighbouring castles, Crathes and Craigievar. One of the castle’s most evocative rooms is the strikingly simple Great Hall. The castle contains many Fraser family portraits, including one by Raeburn, and fine 18th- and 19th-century carpets, curtains and bed hangings, and even Charles Mackenzie Fraser's wooden leg! The estate contains a flight pond, mixed woodland and open farmland, with two waymarked walks giving magnificent views of the local hills.
Crathes Castle, Crathes, Banchory, Aberdeenshire
Crathes Castle is surrounded by woodland to the east of Banchory in the Aberdeenshire countryside. This late 16th century castle, with connections to King Robert the Bruce, provides a memorable experience with its towers, turrets and stories of its resident ghosts. King Robert the Bruce granted the lands of Leys to the Burnett family in 1323: the ancient Horn of Leys, which can be seen today in the Great Hall, marks his gift. The castle, built in the second half of the 16th century, is a superb example of a tower house of the period. Some of the rooms still retain their original painted ceilings and collections of family portraits and furniture. A visit is enhanced by the 1.5 hectares of walled garden, which incorporates herbaceous borders and many unusual plants, providing a wonderful display at all times of the year. The great yew hedges, fascinating examples of the art of topiary, date from as early as 1702
The White House, Corgarff, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire
Corgarff Castle, dating back from the 16th century, sits in the tranquil Aberdeenshire countryside.
Situated in stunning scenery with magnificent views, this tower house is thought to have been built in 1550 before being converted into a barracks for government troops in 1748. The castle’s last military use was to control the smuggling of illicit whisky between 1827 and 1831. Today the site is still complete with its 18th century star-shaped fortification.