Dunnottar Castle


24x7 Customer Support
Quality Assured
Stress Free Experience
Easy and Secure Booking

Welcome to the captivating world of Dunnottar Castle, an ancient fortress nestled on the northeastern coast of Scotland. In this article, we will embark on a journey through time and delve into the rich history, breathtaking architecture, and intriguing legends surrounding Dunnottar Castle. Prepare to be enthralled as we uncover the secrets of this majestic stronghold and discover why it holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike.

Dunnottar Castle: A Historical Gem

Dunnottar Castle stands proudly atop a dramatic cliff, overlooking the North Sea near the town of Stonehaven, Scotland. Its strategic location has made it a formidable defensive structure throughout the centuries. The castle's origins can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages, making it a site of historical significance.

The Early Years of Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle, often referred to as the "Jewel of Aberdeenshire," dates back to the 9th century. Its construction was initiated by the Keith family, who sought to establish a stronghold to protect against invasions from rival clans. Over the centuries, the castle underwent various expansions and modifications, cementing its status as an impregnable fortress...

Read More

Dunnottar Castle and Scottish Royalty

Dunnottar Castle played a prominent role in Scottish history, hosting several notable figures. One such figure was King William Wallace, who sought refuge within its walls during his struggle for Scottish independence. Additionally, the castle witnessed visits from Mary, Queen of Scots, and King Charles II, further emphasizing its significance in royal affairs.

History and Significance of Dunnottar Castle

A Fortress of Legends and Battles

Dunnottar Castle has a long and storied history dating back to the Early Middle Ages. Its strategic location made it an ideal stronghold for various clans and nobles throughout the centuries. The castle's origins can be traced back to the 12th century when it served as a defensive fortification against Viking invasions. Over time, it evolved into a grand residence for Scottish nobility and witnessed numerous historic events.

A Witness to Royal Encounters

One of the notable episodes in Dunnottar Castle's history is the visit of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1562. Seeking refuge from the turbulent political climate, she found solace within the castle's walls. The queen's presence added a touch of royal glamor to the already esteemed castle.

A Symbol of Scottish Independence

Dunnottar Castle played a significant role during the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was at this castle that a small garrison valiantly defended the Scottish Crown Jewels against English forces, refusing to surrender even in the face of overwhelming odds. Their determination to preserve Scottish sovereignty earned Dunnottar Castle a place in the annals of Scottish history.

History Unveiled: A Timeline of Dunnottar Castle

To truly appreciate the historical significance of Dunnottar Castle, let's embark on a journey through time and discover the key milestones that have shaped this remarkable landmark.

Early History (5th-7th Century)

The origins of Dunnottar Castle can be traced back to the early medieval period when a Pictish fortress stood atop the cliffs. The Picts, a group of indigenous peoples in Scotland, recognized the strategic value of the location and established a stronghold to defend against external threats.

The Arrival of the Keith Family (14th Century)

In the 14th century, Dunnottar Castle came under the ownership of the Keith family, one of Scotland's most influential noble houses. The Keiths expanded the fortress, fortifying its defenses and transforming it into a formidable stronghold that guarded Scotland's northeastern coastline.

The Covenanters and the Scottish Crown Jewels (17th Century)

During the turbulent years of the 17th century, Dunnottar Castle played a pivotal role in the religious and political struggles that engulfed Scotland. The Covenanters, a Presbyterian movement, sought refuge within the castle walls. As mentioned earlier, it was during this time that the Honors of Scotland were hidden away, ensuring their preservation.

Abandonment and Restoration (18th-20th Century)

Following the Jacobite uprising in 1715, Dunnottar Castle fell into a state of disrepair and was eventually abandoned. However, in the 20th century, efforts to restore the castle began, and today, visitors can witness the castle's former grandeur through ongoing restoration projects.

The Architecture of Dunnottar Castle

A Spectacular Setting

Dunnottar Castle's location on a rocky promontory makes it a truly awe-inspiring sight. As you approach the castle, you are greeted by steep cliffs, crashing waves, and panoramic views of the surrounding coastline. This dramatic backdrop sets the stage for the architectural marvel that awaits.

Medieval Fortifications

The castle's architecture is a testament to its defensive capabilities. The curtain walls, fortified gatehouse, and strategically placed towers showcase the castle's medieval design. The builders of Dunnottar Castle skillfully incorporated natural features of the cliff, creating a complex and formidable fortress.

The Great Hall

Within the castle's walls, the Great Hall stands as a reminder of its former grandeur. This vast hall, with its soaring ceilings and ornate decorations, was the heart of social and political gatherings during the castle's heyday. It serves as a window into the opulent lifestyle of the castle's inhabitants.

Hidden Tunnels and Secret Rooms

Exploring Dunnottar Castle reveals a network of hidden tunnels and secret rooms. These underground passages were used for various purposes, such as smuggling goods and providing escape routes during times of siege. These concealed spaces add an element of mystery and intrigue to the castle's allure.

Visiting Dunnottar Castle

Opening Hours and Admission

Dunnottar Castle is open to the public throughout the year, allowing visitors to experience its history and beauty firsthand. It is important to check the castle's official website for the most up-to-date information regarding opening hours and admission fees.

Guided Tours and Activities

To make the most of your visit, consider joining a guided tour of Dunnottar Castle. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the castle's various chambers, regaling you with captivating stories and historical anecdotes. Additionally, the castle occasionally hosts special events, such as reenactments and concerts, providing a unique and immersive experience.

Capturing Memories

Dunnottar Castle offers breathtaking vistas and picturesque scenery, making it a haven for photography enthusiasts. Capture the beauty of the castle against the backdrop of the North Sea or explore the surrounding trails for panoramic views of the rugged coastline. Don't forget to bring your camera to preserve your memories of this extraordinary place.

Dunnottar Castle: A Historical Marvel

Dunnottar Castle stands proudly on a rugged headland near Stonehaven, Scotland. This iconic landmark boasts a storied past that stretches back to the Early Middle Ages. With its strategic location and impregnable fortifications, the castle has played a significant role in shaping Scotland's history.

The Magnificence of Dunnottar Castle

The first glimpse of Dunnottar Castle is nothing short of breathtaking. As you approach the castle, you are greeted by the sight of its majestic ruins silhouetted against the picturesque backdrop of the North Sea. The combination of its dramatic setting, rugged cliffs, and medieval architecture creates an ambiance that is both haunting and awe-inspiring.

Legend has it that Dunnottar Castle was the hiding place of the Honors of Scotland, the country's crown jewels, during the 17th-century Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The castle's impenetrable cliffs and strategic position made it the perfect sanctuary for safeguarding these precious treasures. Despite being under siege for eight months, the defenders successfully held out and saved the crown jewels from falling into enemy hands.

Discovering the Origins

Dunnottar Castle, located near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, has roots that can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages. The exact date of its construction remains uncertain, but historical evidence suggests that a fortified structure existed on the site as early as the 3rd century AD. Over the centuries, the castle evolved and expanded, becoming the iconic stronghold that we see today.

A Strategic Stronghold

Dunnottar Castle's strategic location played a crucial role in shaping its history. Situated atop a rocky promontory surrounded by sheer cliffs, it offered unparalleled defensive advantages. The castle's vantage point provided an unobstructed view of the surrounding coastline, allowing its inhabitants to spot approaching enemies from afar. This advantage made it an ideal defensive fortress during times of conflict.

Tales of Turmoil and Triumph

Dunnottar Castle has witnessed countless chapters of Scotland's tumultuous past. It was at the heart of numerous historical events that shaped the nation's destiny. One of its most prominent moments came during the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 14th century when it served as a stronghold for William Wallace and later as a hiding place for the Honors of Scotland (the Scottish Crown Jewels). The castle also played a crucial role in the Covenanting Wars of the 17th century, acting as a base for rebellious Scottish Covenanters.

Legends and Lore

Like many ancient castles, Dunnottar has its fair share of legends and folklore. One of the most enduring tales revolves around a daring escape by a small group of men who rescued the Honors of Scotland from the clutches of Cromwell's forces. According to the legend, a hidden tunnel allowed them to sneak past the enemy and secure the nation's precious treasures. Whether rooted in truth or deceit lished by the passage of time, these stories add an air of mystery and intrigue to the castle's history.

Architectural Marvel

Beyond its historical significance, Dunnottar Castle is a testament to medieval architecture and engineering. The complex comprises several structures, including the main tower, residential buildings, and a chapel. The castle's architecture seamlessly blends with the natural landscape, making it a breathtaking sight to behold. Visitors can explore the various sections of the castle, immersing themselves in its rich heritage and marveling at the craftsmanship that has withstood centuries.

A Haven for Nature and Beauty

Aside from its historical allure, Dunnottar Castle is set amidst stunning natural surroundings. The rugged cliffs, dramatic coastline, and panoramic views of the North Sea create a picturesque backdrop that adds to the castle's charm. Visitors can embark on scenic walks along the cliff paths, taking in the breathtaking vistas and discovering the diverse flora and fauna that call this area home.

Preserving the Legacy

Today, Dunnottar Castle is not only a captivating tourist destination but also a cherished heritage site. Efforts have been made to restore and preserve its structures, ensuring that future generations can appreciate its historical significance. The castle welcomes visitors from around the world, offering guided tours, educational programs, and a glimpse into the past that leaves a lasting impression.

Exploring the Castle Grounds

As you step foot within the castle grounds, you are transported back in time. The ruins of Dunnottar Castle stand as a testament to its former glory, providing a glimpse into the lives of the people who once resided within its walls. The castle's intricate architecture, from the Great Hall to the Chapel, offers a fascinating insight into medieval life.

Dunnottar Castle: A Photographer's Paradise

For photography enthusiasts, Dunnottar Castle is a dream come true. With its awe-inspiring location and picturesque surroundings, the castle offers countless opportunities for capturing stunning images. Whether you're an amateur or a professional, you'll be spellbound by the play of light and shadow on the castle's weathered stones, as well as the dramatic coastal views.

Exploring the Castle's Architecture and Surroundings

Architectural Marvels

The castle's architecture is a testament to the skills and craftsmanship of the medieval builders. The strategic positioning on a rocky outcrop adds to its allure, making it appear as if it emerged from the very cliffs themselves. The ruins showcase a mix of architectural styles, including medieval fortifications and Renaissance influences, reflecting the castle's evolution over the centuries.

Scenic Beauty and Natural Wonders

Dunnottar Castle's location offers visitors a truly awe-inspiring experience. The panoramic views of the rugged coastline and the vast expanse of the North Sea are simply breathtaking. As visitors explore the castle's grounds, they are treated to stunning vistas that have inspired countless artists, writers, and poets throughout history.

The castle is also surrounded by an idyllic landscape that invites exploration. Visitors can take leisurely walks along the cliffs, immersing themselves in the beauty of the Scottish countryside. The sights and sounds of nature create a tranquil ambiance that complements the castle's majestic presence.

Visitor Experience and Activities

Guided Tours and Historical Insights

To truly appreciate the rich history and significance of Dunnottar Castle, visitors can take part in guided tours led by knowledgeable historians and local experts. These tours provide fascinating insights into the castle's past, offering a glimpse into the lives of the people who once inhabited its walls.

Captivating Exhibitions and Artifacts

Within the castle, visitors can explore various exhibitions that showcase a collection of artifacts, documents, and artworks related to its history. These exhibits provide a tangible connection to the past, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the castle's captivating tales.

Photography and Filming Opportunities

Dunnottar Castle's picturesque surroundings make it a paradise for photographers and filmmakers. The castle's imposing silhouette against the dramatic coastline creates a captivating backdrop for capturing memorable moments. Whether it's a professional shoot or a personal memento, visitors can create lasting memories in this awe-inspiring setting.

Architecture and Features of Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle's architecture is a testament to the skills of its builders and the castle's strategic military design. Let's explore some of the noteworthy features that make this fortress a true marvel.

The Tower House: A Defiant Structure

At the heart of Dunnottar Castle stands the Tower House, a prominent feature of its architecture. This four-story structure, with its thick stone walls and narrow windows, exemplifies the defensive e capabilities of the castle. Visitors can climb the tower and marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

The Chapel and Barracks

Within the castle grounds, you'll find the remains of a chapel and barracks, which provide insight into the daily lives of the inhabitants. The chapel, a place of solace and worship, transports visitors to a bygone era. The barracks, on the other hand, offer a glimpse into the military life of the castle's defenders.

Legends and Ghostly Tales

No ancient castle is complete without its fair share of legends and ghost stories, and Dunnottar Castle is no exception. Immerse yourself in the mystical tales and eerie accounts that have been passed down through generations.

The Tale of the Honors of Scotland

One of the most intriguing legends associated with Dunnottar Castle revolves around the Honors of Scotland. During the Scottish Wars of Independence, the castle served as a hiding place for the crown jewels, including the legendary Stone of Destiny. It is said that a brave young woman, named Christian Fletcher, smuggled the jewels out of the castle while it was under siege by English forces. Her courageous act ensured the preservation of Scotland's treasures.

The Green Lady's Haunting

Legend has it that Dunnottar Castle is haunted by the ghost of a lady dressed in a flowing green gown. The Green Lady is believed to be the spirit of a servant girl who tragically fell to her death from the cliffs surrounding the castle. Visitors have reported sightings of her apparition, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the castle's mystique.

Read Less

Popular destinations in scotland

02 Aug - 10 Aug
02 Aug - 10 Aug
St Andrews
02 Aug - 10 Aug
02 Aug - 10 Aug
02 Aug - 10 Aug
St Andrews
02 Aug - 10 Aug

FAQs about Dunnottar Castle

How can I reach Dunnottar Castle?

To reach Dunnottar Castle, you can take a train to Stonehaven and then embark on a scenic walk along the coast. Alternatively, you can drive and avail of the parking facilities near the castle.

Are guided tours available?

Yes, guided tours are available at Dunnottar Castle. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the castle grounds, providing fascinating insights into its history and legends.

Can I visit Dunnottar Castle all year round?

Dunnottar Castle is open to visitors throughout the year, except on certain holidays. It's always a good idea to check the castle's official website for the most up-to-date information on opening hours.

Are there any amenities at the castle?

While there are no on-site facilities, there are public toilets available near the castle. Additionally, Stonehaven, the nearby town, offers a range of accommodations, restaurants, and shops for visitors to enjoy.

Is Dunnottar Castle suitable for children?

Dunnottar Castle welcomes visitors of all ages. However, due to its cliffside location, it's essential to supervise children closely and exercise caution during the visit.

Can I take photographs at Dunnottar Castle?

Photography is allowed and encouraged at Dunnottar Castle. Capture the magic of this historic site and create lasting memories of your visit.



As our journey through the captivating world of Dunnottar Castle comes to an end, we hope you have gained a deeper appreciation for this historical gem. From its majestic architecture to its intriguing legends, Dunnottar Castle continues to fascinate and inspire visitors from around the globe. So, if you find yourself venturing through Scotland, be sure to add Dunnottar Castle to your itinerary and immerse yourself in its timeless beauty.



Price p.p. from


See what makes our Scotland trips special with testimonies from our lovely customers.

John & Marian

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

John & Marian

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

John & Marian

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

John & Marian

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.