Several weeks ago, you toured the exterior and grounds of Crathes Castle. The castle is located in the Scottish Highlands in the present day district of Aberdeenshire. Today, you will take a look at some of the inside rooms. Since photography is not allowed inside the castle, some of the photos used in this blog post are borrowed with permission from Visit Scotland* media library, some are from the public domain, and others are my photos.
Crathes Castle is one of the best preserved 16th-century castles in Scotland. The castle is owned and operated by the National Trust of Scotland, and has been in the Burnett family for 350 years. I write about Fàrdach Castle, also a 16th-century Scottish castle, in the Highland Treasures series. Fàrdach had no later additions in the stories, but looks much like Crathes with its tower, ancient ceiling beams, and spiral stairs. You can form an image of an ancient castle and it’s use as a place of safety and shelter for the laird and his family. Villages, where those lived who supplied the castle, sprung up outside the walls, and large rooms for storing necessary supplies were built inside.
An impregnable yett or gate of iron on hinges secures the original entrance. The yett pictured above is one at the entrance of Blackness Castle, Scotland. I could not photograph the yett of Crathes Castle, but it is of a similar construction.
A yett is mentioned in the third book of the Highland Treasures series entitled A Love for all Seasons.
Tomas and the luchd-taighe leading the horses, followed us to the postern gate of Dunollie Castle. A large iron lock secured the yett over the gate’s opening. Alex reached into the pocket of his jacket to find an iron key. He unfastened the lock and opened the yett. We stood aside for all to enter. Tomas, holding a torch of bundled straw, led the way for his men and the animals. Alex closed and locked the yett, then the two of us followed down the dark, damp tunnel.
The kitchen was equipped with a large fireplace where huge pots of food cooked over peat fires. The modern kitchen is equipped as it might have been between the two World Wars.
The High Hall, the most important in the castle, has changed over the years. You can measure the thickness of the walls by the alcove housing the ancient armor.
The Stair Chamber is renowned for its painted ceilings dating from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
The Green Lady’s Room owes its name to the legendary ghost of Crathes. The Fourth Baronet developed an obsessive fear of ghosts, so the ceilings are painted with grotesque faces, weird designs and advice such as, ‘Flie sone all naughtie companie’. The furniture dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and includes a Jacobean cradle.
The Muse’s room with another example of the famous painted ceilings of Crathes may have been the lady’s workroom. Sixteen female figures can be seen on the ceiling to inspire her nine Muses and seven Virtues. The crewel work wall covering dating from the seventeenth century is a reminder tapestries and linen hangings covered the wall.
The Stone Hall was a private room used by the Laird and his family, which originally gave access to the top table in the high hall. The hall contains a small collection of weapons, including a large two-handed sword, probably of German manufacture and seventeenth-century in date; a rare Scottish musket, dated 1682, and flintlock pistols of the Napoleonic War period.
The walled garden’s age is unknown, but likely dates from soon after the inception of the castle itself, when the kitchen garden it protected would have been essential to the household. Tradition says the oldest yews date from 1702. The modern gardens are the product of Major-General Sir James Burnett, the last Baronet of Crathes, and his wife Sybil who donated historic Crathes Castle to the National Trust of Scotland.
A Highland Pearl is the first book in the Highland Treasures series. Fardach Castle, home of Chief Andrew Dubh Munro, and seat of Clan Munro is a 16th century tower house built on the same order as Crathes Castle.
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