Discover Aberdeenshire's Castle Country

Crathes Castle, a Beautifully Preserved Castle Dating back to the late 1500s

With its subtle pink hue, its towers and turrets, Crathes is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt castles in Aberdeenshire.Crathes Castle and Gardens

Crathes Castle is set amongst extensive parklands, fields and walled gardens that total around 4 acres, close to the River Dee,  just 2 miles from Banchory and 18 miles from Aberdeen.

The castle dates back to the 16th century when it was built for the Burnetts of Leys who owned the castle for around 500 years.  

Crathes Castle is one of Aberdeenshire's premier attractions for all of the family with a courtyard cafe, children's adventure playground, extensive gardens and a  Go Ape all on site!

Crathes Castle has some similarities of appearance with Craigievar Castle and like Craigievar, is incredibly well preserved and is protected and managed by the National Trust for Scotland.

What is Special About Crathes Castle?

Aberdeenshire is dotted with many fascinating ruined castles but Crathes is noteworthy because despite being built in 1596 it is still beautifully preserved, inside and out.  The painstakingly painted ceilings are also said to be amongst some of the most unusual and unique in Scotland and the castle has some fine paintings, Jacobean rooms as well as the Horn of Leys (given by Robert the Bruce to the Burnett family and now on display in the castle).


History of Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle, AberdeenshireCrathes Castle belonged to the Burnett family for hundreds of years.  The land on which Crathes Castle (the land of Leys) is built was given by Robert the Bruce to the Burnett family in the 1300s.

Subsequently, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the site of Crathes Castle was home to a wooden castle.  Then in the 1500s, as a result of a favourable marriage, the wealth of the family increased as Alexander Burnett of Leys married wealthy Janet Hamilton.    With this increased wealth, the construction of the current Crathes Castle began in the 1550s.  The building of the stone-built castle we can see today was finished in 1596.  

Over the centuries, unlike many other powerful Scottish families, the Burnett family managed to stay  out of much of the conflict that caused so much trauma to other castles in this part of Scotland.  This ability to remain neutral and stay out of trouble and not back the wrong side has resulted in the castle remaining largely untouched over the centuries.  

The only real time of danger that Crathes Castle has seen was in 1644 when the Marquis of Montrose and his army took over the castle, but even this was a peaceful and uneventful affair, which the Burnett family reluctantly agreed to.  
The Castle was extended dramatically in the late 1680s as the then Sir Thomas Burnett and his wife had 21 children, a couple who may have held true to the old adage of 'Make Love not War!'.  This extension burned down in 1966 and was then replaced by the current 2 storey wing.

The castle was passed to the National Trust for Scotland in 1951.

Ghosts and Spooky Happenings at Crathes Castle

Despite its lack of a tumultuous history, Crathes Castle is said to be home to not one but two ghosts!  Two female ghosts are said to haunt the castle but not on a regular basis; a Green Lady (reportedly seen carrying a small child), is rarely seen and the second ghost, a ghost of an ordinary young lady from the times of the original wooden castle,  is said to appear once a year, on the anniversary of her death.  This other ghost is said to be the ghost of a young lady who fell in love with Alexander, the son of Lady Agnes,  who is said to have been poisoned by Lady Agnes who decided to do away with  the unsuitable match!  


When Can You Visit Crathes Castle?

The Castle Gardens can be visited at set times, all year round, and the castle is open most of the year (except certain dates over Christmas and January), again at set times.  See the National Trust for Scotland's website for more visitor information.  Entrance to Crathes Castle and Gardens is free for members of the National Trust for Scotland.  


Crathes Castle Address:

Crathes Castle and Gardens
Aberdeen & Grampian
AB31 5QJ