We were in the area for a few days longer, but no matter how hard I tried; a trip to Dunnottar just wasn't in the making ... but I never forgot it, and read as much information as I possibly could find about it from that point onwards, until we went back to Britain almost 5 years later. This time I was determined to visit it, come rain or come hail, I was going to walk amongst the ruins of that castle, and dream my little dreams...
It had rained every day since we had arrived in Scotland, and that day was no different, yet it mysteriously stopped for a while whilest we paid our visit to the castle. It was miserably cold and quite windy, but we remained in good spirits throughout. The trek up to the castle was picturesque- across a field to the edge of a cliff, where a steep path made it's descent to the pebbled beach below. As it had rained so much prior to our visit, everything was pretty muddy, so the going was tough, but more adventurous, I felt.
Now, before going down the path, I should tell you a little about our surroundings, as well as the castle... as I said, it was a field, but to the right of us there was a small valley that dipped all the way down before coming up the other side again- it wasn't very wide but quite deep; one certainly wouldn't entertain the thought of jumping that gulley! There was a large waterfall on the other side of the 'ditch' that had collected all of the rain water and was guiding it down to the sea. There were Lambs and sheep abound- and balls of their wool billowing around the fields, catching in the long grass.
We eventually made it down to the bottom of the muddy cliff path, then followed the path to the castle's entrance (or gatehouse), which is actually built right into the rock. To say the least, the gatehouse is formidable, with its tall wall completely inscaleable. To the right of the gatehouse is a five story sixteenth century building, known as Benholm's Lodging. There are several gun-loops and loop-holes for arrows, that look over the pathway, providing the building with it's only light from that side, and adding yet more protection to the castle.
|The Keep and part of the Smithy||Keep & Storehouse|
Heading out towards the middle of the castle rock, we find a separate building known as The Priest's House. It was called this as it was used by the priest of Dunnottar castle. It is also known as Waterton's Lodging. It is a two-story unvaulted house that contained private rooms, and a large hall. It appears that this building was used by the the family's son and his new bride.
Past Waterton's Lodging is the Kirkyard (also known as the church burial ground). After the kirkyard we find ourselves at the Kirk, or church, which forms part of 'The Quadrangle'. The Quandrangle was the most domestic part of the castle, being that it housed the well, living quarters, Large Dining room, Kitchen, Bakery and Brewhouse to name a few. All these buildings seem to have been built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The most infamous part of the quadrangle has to be Whig's Vault...This chamber lies underneath the private bedroom suite known as 'The King's Chamber' (so called after it was used by Charles II). Whig's Vault was originally used as a storeroom, but was turned into something much more sinister (read the section under Dunnottar's Famous History for more!).
The present chapel was built sometime in the 16th century, though it is said that there has been a chapel on this spot as long as there has been a castle on the rock, and that goes back to at least the 12th century, when castles were constructed with timber.
The Bowling Green as it is now, is a wide open space, and level, with the sides banked upwards. This is probably where the outdoor entertaining was held.
|Eastern Quadrangle & Bowling Green||The Church (Kirk)|
It was 1715 that Dunnottar Castle was abandoned, after the keeper of the castle was involved in yet another ill-fated rebellion, and because of his involvement, the castle was forfeited, sold, and dismantled... and there the ruins have remained ever since, bringing people from far and wide to comtemplate them, and to imagine life as it must have been (good and bad) during Dunnottar's hey days.