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Exploring Crathes Castle In Scotland


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Morena Hoff



Welcome to Crathes Castle, a majestic Scottish landmark steeped in history and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Nestled in the heart of Aberdeenshire, this enchanting castle offers visitors a glimpse into the rich heritage and traditions of Scotland.


Crathes Castle, also known as the ancestral home of the Burnett family, is a testament to the grandeur and elegance of Scottish architecture. This 16th-century castle stands tall amidst lush greenery and boasts intricate details that reflect the craftsmanship of the past.


As you step foot inside Crathes Castle, you are transported back in time, immersing yourself in a world of knights, noble families, and tales of long-lost legends. The castle’s walls whisper stories of the past, providing a fascinating glimpse into Scotland’s vibrant history.


Whether you are a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking an escape from the bustling city life, Crathes Castle offers a perfect retreat. With its stunning architecture, magnificent gardens, and mythical tales, this Scottish gem offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.


Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the secrets of Crathes Castle, exploring its rich history, remarkable architecture, and captivating beauty. Get ready to delve into a world where legends come alive and immerse yourself in the charm of one of Scotland’s most cherished cultural treasures.


History of Crathes Castle

The history of Crathes Castle dates back to the 16th century, when it was originally built as a tower house by the Burnett family. The castle’s construction began in 1553 and took over 40 years to complete, with subsequent generations adding their own touches and expansions.


The Burnett family, one of the oldest in Scotland, inhabited Crathes Castle for over 350 years. They played a significant role in the region’s history and were renowned for their contributions to politics, law, and various industries.


Throughout the centuries, Crathes Castle witnessed turbulent periods of Scottish history, including conflicts between clans and political unrest. Despite these challenges, the castle endured, serving as both a fortress and a family home.


One of the most notable events in Crathes Castle’s history occurred in 1644 during the Scottish Civil War. It is said that the castle was besieged by the troops of the Marquis of Montrose, who sought to take control of the area. However, the Burnett family successfully defended their ancestral home, ensuring its preservation.


In the early 20th century, the castle underwent significant renovations under the care of Lady Mary Burnett-Stuart. She was passionate about preserving the castle’s heritage and worked tirelessly to restore it to its former glory. Lady Mary was responsible for adding the distinctive turreted roofs, which became an iconic feature of Crathes Castle.


Today, Crathes Castle is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, which ensures the preservation and maintenance of this historic site. It stands as a testament to the castle’s rich history and the generations of the Burnett family who called it home.


Visitors to Crathes Castle can explore its intriguing past through guided tours or self-guided visits, immersing themselves in the captivating stories and legends that have shaped the castle’s identity over the centuries.


Architecture and Design

Crathes Castle showcases a stunning blend of architectural styles throughout its history. The original tower house, constructed in the 16th century, features traditional Scottish tower architecture with its thick stone walls, narrow windows, and defensive battlements.


The castle’s later additions and renovations introduced elements of the Scottish Baronial style, characterized by grand towers, turrets, and ornate details. These additions, made in the 19th century, transformed Crathes Castle into a picturesque and romantic fortress.


One of the highlights of the castle’s design is the stunning Great Hall, which showcases intricate wooden paneling, a magnificent fireplace, and a vaulted ceiling adorned with intricate carvings. The Great Hall serves as the heart of the castle, providing insight into the lifestyle and gatherings of the Burnett family.


As you explore the rooms of Crathes Castle, you’ll discover the exquisite Drawing Room, decorated in elegant Victorian style. The room features beautiful tapestries, plush furnishings, and large windows that provide sweeping views of the castle’s grounds.


The tower house, with its spiral staircase and narrow corridors, offers visitors a glimpse into the medieval past. Climb to the top of the tower and be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, a reminder of the castle’s strategic importance in earlier times.


Crathes Castle is also renowned for its impressive gardens, designed in the early 20th century by renowned designer Edith Johnston. The gardens span over four acres and feature a variety of colorful flowers, carefully manicured lawns, and enchanting woodland walks.


The castle’s exterior boasts a stunning array of turrets, corbelled parapets, and crow-stepped gables that add to its charm and grandeur. The surrounding landscape, with its lush greenery, tranquil lake, and picturesque woodland, serves as the perfect backdrop for the castle’s magnificent architecture.


Crathes Castle stands as a testament to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of Scottish architecture throughout the centuries. Its unique blend of medieval and Scottish Baronial styles, combined with its breathtaking surroundings, make it a truly remarkable heritage site to explore.


Gardens and Grounds

The gardens and grounds of Crathes Castle are a true haven for nature enthusiasts and those seeking tranquility amidst stunning natural beauty. Designed in the early 20th century by Edith Johnston, the gardens span over four acres and offer a delightful blend of formal and wild landscapes.


As you wander through the gardens, you’ll be captivated by the vibrant colors and fragrances of the carefully cultivated flower beds. Admire the stunning displays of rhododendrons, roses, and azaleas, which blanket the gardens with a riot of colors during the blooming seasons.


Take a leisurely stroll along the winding paths that meander through woodland areas, allowing you to immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of nature. Discover hidden nooks, serene ponds, and charming bridges that dot the landscape, creating a serene and idyllic setting.


The walled garden, with its well-tended beds and neatly clipped hedges, showcases a plethora of native plants and flowers. It is a tranquil space where visitors can admire the beauty of nature or simply find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the surroundings.


For those with a green thumb, the gardens also offer inspiration and ideas for their own outdoor spaces. From herbaceous borders and formal parterres to grand rockeries and sculptured topiaries, the gardens at Crathes Castle are a treasure trove of horticultural delights.


Beyond the gardens, the grounds of Crathes Castle extend to encompass lush woodlands and picturesque meadows. Embark on a gentle hike through the woodland trails, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a sense of serenity.


Children will delight in exploring the Adventure Play Area, complete with a wooden castle, zip line, and a climbing frame nestled within the trees. It’s an ideal space for them to burn off energy and let their imaginations run wild.


Throughout the year, the gardens host a variety of events and activities, including garden tours, plant sales, and seasonal celebrations. From summer concerts amid the floral splendor to winter wonderland walks, there’s always something to entice visitors of all ages.


Visiting the gardens and grounds of Crathes Castle is a truly enchanting experience that allows you to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the Scottish countryside. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant gardens or taking in the peaceful serenity of the woodlands, Crathes Castle’s outdoor spaces are sure to leave a lasting impression.


The Great Hall

The Great Hall at Crathes Castle is a magnificent space that transports visitors back in time to the days of grand feasts and medieval revelry. This impressive room, located on the first floor of the castle, serves as a centerpiece that showcases the rich history and grandeur of the Burnett family.


Stepping into the Great Hall, you’ll be immediately struck by the awe-inspiring architecture and detailed craftsmanship that adorns the room. The walls are dressed in beautiful wooden paneling, intricately carved with symbols, crests, and mythical creatures that tell tales of ancient lore.


The focal point of the Great Hall is the grand fireplace, which stands tall and wide, exuding warmth and inviting visitors to gather around its hearth. The fireplace is adorned with intricate carvings and bears the coat of arms of the Burnett family, serving as a reminder of their noble lineage.


The vaulted ceiling of the Great Hall is a sight to behold, featuring decorative wooden beams and painted motifs that add to the room’s sense of grandeur. Sunlight pours in through the large windows, casting a warm glow on the rich tapestries that hang from the walls.


In addition to its impressive architecture, the Great Hall also holds a significant place in the castle’s history. It was here that the Burnett family would host elaborate feasts, celebrations, and gatherings, welcoming nobles and dignitaries from near and far.


Visitors can almost imagine the Great Hall filled with laughter, the clinking of goblets, and the sounds of merriment as the castle’s inhabitants reveled in their luxurious surroundings. It truly is a space that brings the past to life and offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Burnett family.


Today, the Great Hall serves as a venue for various events and activities, including special exhibitions, concerts, and even intimate weddings. It provides a unique backdrop for these occasions, adding a touch of historic elegance and charm to any gathering.


When visiting Crathes Castle, make sure to take the time to step into the Great Hall and soak in its majestic atmosphere. Marvel at the intricate details, imagine the bustling festivities of centuries past, and appreciate the rich heritage that this remarkable room represents.


The Tower House

The Tower House is a captivating feature of Crathes Castle, offering visitors a glimpse into the castle’s medieval past. Standing tall and imposing, this part of the castle evokes a sense of intrigue and mystery, transporting visitors back to a time of knights and noble families.


As you approach the Tower House, you’ll be struck by its rugged beauty and impressive architecture. The tower, with its sturdy stone walls, narrow windows, and fortified appearance, serves as a reminder of the castle’s original purpose as a defensive stronghold.


Inside the Tower House, you’ll find a spiral staircase that winds its way up several floors, leading to various rooms and chambers. As you ascend, be sure to take in the intricate details of the stone walls, showing signs of the passage of time and the castle’s storied history.


Each floor of the Tower House reveals a different aspect of castle life. Explore the living quarters, where you’ll find beautifully furnished rooms that once served as private spaces for the castle’s occupants. Admire the ornate ceilings, intricately carved wooden furniture, and finely woven tapestries that reflect the opulence of the past.


At the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the castle’s surrounding grounds and the stunning Scottish countryside. From this vantage point, you can appreciate the strategic position that Crathes Castle held, offering commanding views and a sense of security.


The Tower House also holds its fair share of legends and ghost stories. One notable legend is that of the Green Lady, a ghostly apparition said to roam the halls of the castle. According to the tale, the Green Lady is the spirit of a young woman who suffered an untimely death and continues to haunt the castle to this day. Visitors may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her ethereal presence.


Exploring the Tower House is a fascinating journey through time, immersing visitors in the medieval ambiance and allowing them to envision what life was like within the walls of Crathes Castle centuries ago. It’s a chance to traverse the same steps as knights and nobles, to touch the weathered stones, and to uncover the stories locked within its walls.


Take the time to explore the Tower House during your visit to Crathes Castle. Let your imagination wander as you ascend its spiral staircase, and immerse yourself in the history and mystery that surrounds this remarkable part of the castle.


The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room at Crathes Castle is a testament to elegance and refinement. Located on the first floor, this room is a showcase of Victorian design and offers visitors a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the Burnett family.


Step into the Drawing Room, and you’ll be greeted by a sense of opulence. The room is adorned with exquisite tapestries, ornate chandeliers, and plush furnishings that invite relaxation and comfort. The Victorian style is evident in the delicate moldings, luxurious fabrics, and attention to detail.


The large windows of the Drawing Room flood the space with natural light, offering panoramic views of the castle’s grounds and allowing visitors to bask in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. It’s a tranquil space that invites contemplation and reflection.


The Drawing Room serves as a gathering place for the Burnett family and their guests. Imagine the room filled with lively conversations, laughter, and the clinking of teacups as visitors enjoyed the company of their hosts.


Visitors can also marvel at the collection of art and antiques displayed in the Drawing Room. From intricately carved furniture to carefully curated artifacts, each piece tells a story of the Burnett family’s tastes and interests.


The atmosphere of the Drawing Room offers a glimpse into the past, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the refined world of the Victorian era. It is a space that exudes grace and sophistication, inviting visitors to appreciate the finer things in life.


Take a moment to sit in one of the plush armchairs, gaze out of the window, and envision a bygone era where elegance and social gatherings were paramount. The Drawing Room provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Burnett family and serves as a reminder of the rich history that resides within the walls of Crathes Castle.


When visiting Crathes Castle, be sure to spend time in the Drawing Room. Let the ambiance of the room transport you to a time of refinement and indulgence, and appreciate the intricate details and luxurious surroundings that make this space truly exceptional.


The Green Lady Ghost Legend

Crathes Castle is known for its rich history and captivating legends, and one of the most enduring tales is that of the Green Lady. This ghostly apparition is said to haunt the halls of the castle, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to the already enchanting atmosphere.


The legend of the Green Lady dates back centuries, and there are various versions of the story. According to one popular account, the Green Lady is the spirit of a young woman named Bertha, who lived at Crathes Castle during the 17th century.


Bertha was deeply in love with a local stable boy, but her family disapproved of the relationship due to his lower social status. The young couple decided to elope, planning to meet in a secret passage beneath the castle. However, tragedy struck when Bertha’s family discovered their plans and sealed off the passage, leaving her love trapped inside.


Heartbroken and distressed, Bertha spent her days waiting for her love to return, wandering the halls of the castle in despair. It is said that she was often seen wearing a green gown, which gave rise to her spectral nickname, the Green Lady.


Over the years, there have been numerous reports of sightings and encounters with the Green Lady. Visitors and staff have described seeing a ghostly figure in a green gown, often accompanied by a sense of sadness or a chill in the air.


The Green Lady has become a famous part of Crathes Castle’s folklore, with her story captivating the imaginations of those who visit. Her presence adds an ethereal element to the castle, enhancing the sense of history and mystery that permeates the atmosphere.


Whether you believe in ghostly apparitions or not, the legend of the Green Lady adds an additional layer of intrigue to the castle’s allure. Visitors can’t help but be drawn into the tale, imagining Bertha’s tragic love story and wondering if they might catch a glimpse of her spirit as they explore the castle’s corridors.


For those who are brave enough, Crathes Castle offers ghost tours and paranormal experiences, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the legend of the Green Lady and explore the castle after dark.


Whether you encounter the Green Lady or not, the legend of this spectral presence adds to the captivating allure of Crathes Castle, reminding us of the enduring power of stories and the mysteries that lie within the ancient walls.


Visitor Information

Planning a visit to Crathes Castle? Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your experience:

  • Location: Crathes, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
  • Opening Hours: Crathes Castle is open daily from 10am to 5pm, with the last entry at 4:30pm. However, it’s always a good idea to check the official website for any changes or closures before your visit.
  • Ticket Prices: There is an admission fee to enter Crathes Castle, which goes towards the preservation and maintenance of the castle and its grounds. Discounted rates are available for children, students, and seniors. Members of the National Trust for Scotland receive free entry.
  • Guided Tours: Crathes Castle offers guided tours led by knowledgeable and friendly staff who provide insight into the castle’s history and highlights. These tours are a great way to learn more about the castle’s intriguing past. Self-guided tours are also available for those who prefer to explore at their own pace.
  • Facilities: The castle has various facilities to enhance your visit, including a gift shop where you can find unique Scottish souvenirs, a cafe offering a selection of refreshments, and restroom facilities.
  • Accessibility: Crathes Castle strives to be accessible to all visitors. The grounds and gardens have wheelchair-friendly paths, and the castle has designated parking and accessible entrances. Please check the official website for specific details regarding accessibility.
  • Events and Activities: Throughout the year, Crathes Castle hosts a range of events and activities, including concerts, workshops, and seasonal celebrations. Keep an eye on the events calendar to see if there’s something special happening during your visit.
  • Photography: Photography is permitted within the castle and its grounds, but professional photography and the use of tripods may require prior permission.

Getting to Crathes Castle is easy, with ample parking available for visitors. The castle is also accessible by public transportation, and there are bus services that stop nearby.


Before your visit, it’s worthwhile checking the official website or contacting Crathes Castle for the most up-to-date information on opening hours, ticket prices, and any special events or restrictions that may be in place.


Crathes Castle offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages. From its stunning architecture and lush gardens to the intriguing legends that surround it, a visit to Crathes Castle is an opportunity to immerse yourself in Scotland’s rich history and natural beauty.


So, plan your visit to Crathes Castle, and get ready to embark on a journey through time and exploration.



Crathes Castle is more than just a historic landmark; it’s a window into the rich history, architecture, and enchanting legends of Scotland. From the moment you step foot inside this majestic castle, you are transported to another time, where tales of nobility, love, and tragedy come to life.


With its impressive tower house, grand Great Hall, elegant Drawing Room, and beautiful gardens, Crathes Castle offers a truly immersive experience for visitors. The blend of architectural styles, from medieval fortifications to Victorian opulence, showcases the evolution of the castle over centuries.


As you explore the castle’s rooms and corridors, you can’t help but be captivated by the stories that echo within its walls. The legends of the Green Lady ghost add an air of mystery and intrigue, while the tales of noble families and their lavish gatherings transport you to a bygone era.


The gardens and grounds of Crathes Castle are a treasure in themselves. The meticulously manicured lawns, vibrant flower beds, and peaceful woodlands provide a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely stroll or a moment of tranquility.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking an escape into the beauty of Scotland, Crathes Castle offers a captivating experience. It’s a place where legends and history intertwine, where the past comes alive, and where moments of serenity can be found amidst stunning surroundings.


So, plan your visit to Crathes Castle and allow yourself to be transported back in time as you explore the grand halls, wander through the gardens, and immerse yourself in the stories and legends that make this Scottish treasure truly unforgettable.


Discover Crathes Castle – an embodiment of Scotland’s fascinating heritage, architectural splendor, and natural allure.