The red cliffs which make such a magnificent contribution to the setting of villages such as Catterline present an even more impressive sight on reaching the approach towards Stonehaven, as the romantic ruins of Dunnottar Castle come into view. The castle must have been a highly effective fortress in its day, standing as it does on an impregnable rock separated from the mainland by a deep ravine. However, this does not mean that it cannot be visited, as there is a tunnel entrance leading up to the top level where the surviving buildings are sited. The castle's origins lie in the arrival of St Ninian in the 5th century, when he chose the site for one of a chain of churches. Over the years that followed, it saw plenty of action. In the Middle Ages William Wallace - aka Mel Gibson - led his Scottish Army in the defeat of the English, subsequently imprisoning and burning them in the castle church. In 1650, during an eight-month siege by Oliver Cromwell's army, a small garrison at the castle manfully held out and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels from destruction by allowing them to be smuggled out. The castle was seized by the Government following the 1715 Jacobite Rising because one of the participants in the Rising was the last Earl Marischal, the owner of the castle at the time. Two centuries of neglect followed until 1925, when the 1st Viscountess Cowdray began restoration work. So we have the Viscountess to thank for the fact that this incredible place can be revisited here in the 21st century.
Map of the area.