Dunnottar – Light and Dark

View from Dunnottar

Dunnottar is classified as a ‘scheduled monument‘, under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, which means it will be protected in its current state for generations to come.

Hole in Dunnottar

Presently the castle ruins are owned by Charles Anthony Pearson, the younger son of the 3rd Viscount Cowdray. Dunnottar has been in the Cowdray family since 1925.

Picturesque Dunnottar

The admission price is modest, and clearly – judging by the immaculate order of the grounds – the money goes back into Dunnottar.

The Inner Yard

We spent hours wandering the grounds, looking in every corner and cavern. It was all very enchanting. I have used it before but the term ‘fairy tale like’ would apply.

Through Another Window

Or perhaps Shakespearian would better suit, as the grounds were used in the 1990’s Hamlet remake.

The fish pond well that sparkles green in the middle of the castle court, speaks volumes about medieval architecture.

The Well

Not only were the stones still standing – at least 400 years later – but the location itself was entirely picturesque.

You could imagine the people of the court gathering for conversation as they headed to the adjacent church.

The Inner Yard

Every window you look through at Dunnottar, frames a spectacular sight – I found myself admiring and photographing each and every incredible view.

Not a small task, with all of the castle that is still intact!

Cliffs Through the Window

The various forces that occupied Dunnottar at different times must have felt very important (and very safe, though ultimately they weren’t) on this North sea perch. Majestic, stunning natural landscape.

Dunnottar is not without its darkness. At one time, below the Kings bedroom, was the ‘Whigs vault’.

In the Whigs Vault

Without going into detail about the political and religious strife that consumed the castle (and much of this region) for nearly two centuries, almost 200 ‘Whigs’ (an anti Royalist group associated with the Covenanters), women and children included, were held here – most of whom ultimately perished.

The Whigs Vault

The story of the fate of those that ended up here is terribly tragic and worth further reading.

…And the King himself slept directly above them. 167 horrified, starving, injured, terrified, sick, wailing people. The thought makes me nauseated. From all aspects.

Narrow Window

Walking through Dunnottar was an emotional rollercoaster ride for us.

At one moment we were horrified by brutal, bloody history and spooked by deep, dark, cavernous stone rooms (and how about the lions den?!), and at the next moment we were standing in tremendous great rooms with the sun shining in on us through impeccably hewn medieval windows and doorways.

In the Doorway

In every direction, gorgeous views spanning miles of north-eastern Scotland – much open for exploration. We saw many couples and families wandering the beaches, climbing cliffs.

It would be great to have two days to explore, and imagine the photos you could capture with a decent camera!

Sandy Beach

Dunnottar has another claim to fame – one that many would consider its most important contribution to Scottish history.

It was here that the ‘Honours of Scotland’ (the all important crown, sword and sceptre) were hidden and saved from destruction and dishonour.

The Outer Wall

Though documented history records two versions of how this came to be, neither refutes the importance of Dunnotar and those who called it home, in the efforts that saved the ‘Honours’.

The Honours of Scotland

It was only closing time that pushed us out of Dunnottar, and we were of the last to leave. We ‘walked on air’ for hours after, completely elevated by the brilliant injection of medieval history we had enjoyed in Stonehaven.

Many additional photos in the slideshow.

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To follow this trip, head to the ‘8 Country EU Tour‘ section. Enjoy many more photos of Scotland at the Habitual Runaway on Facebook.


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