Scotland’s castle nation unfurls in the northeast, squarely in Aberdeenshire, exactly where just about every dip in the pastoral landscape appears to hide a crumbling bastion or a decadent manse clinging to relevance and the faded glories of the previous.
I’ve frequently pondered the strangeness of castles, or at least our perception of them — they seem as stout stone fortresses and populate our collective fantasies in considerably the identical way, but this is like hunting at a dinosaur skeleton and attempting to puzzle out how this bone creature moved or ate or believed.
Castles looked a lot diverse at the height of their use. Taking into consideration the financial may well of their owners, a lot of of them would have been opulent and resplendent with wealthy tapestries, colorful painted ceilings, and plaster covering the castle’s stones. Even the intact castles of right now, areas like Fyvie Castle and Dunvegan Castle, are nevertheless missing some of their “skin” and “ligature.”
The subject of today’s post is a excellent instance of this juxtaposition of opulence and ruin, of now and then. Tolquhon Castle (pronounced TOLL-kun) is one particular of Aberdeenshire’s lesser-identified castles but one particular that quickly delights. These are my favourite castles to come across, and probably you only come across them in Aberdeenshire exactly where the concentration of castles is so higher that fantastic structures are just missed in the presence of a lot more popular brethren.
Tolquhon Castle entered my perception thanks to the handy, crumbling road atlas I’ve kept with me for eight years. It appeared as just one more teal icon close to my journey north to Pennan. If there’s something I’ve discovered from a lot more than a decade of traveling about Scotland, it is that you usually investigate, usually assume one thing fantastic lies upon your path.
Tolquhon Castle stands in a cluster of woods north of Aberdeen in between Pitmedden and Tarves, accessible on a tiny branch shooting off from the B999. It is a stunning spot, in particular on a sunny day like the one particular I enjoyed in Could. The only other patrons I’d see on my stop by had been leaving as I entered the small gatehouse that serves as a Historic Scotland visitors’ centre.
I comply with the neat track in between green fields to the castle correct, a amazing square-strategy beast with the remnants of towers and a preserve peering more than the outer wall. Tolquhon Castle is remarkably effectively intact, but with the drapery of ruin that spikes flights of romanticism.
William Forbes, the 7th laird of the venerable Forbes family members, constructed the existing iteration of Tolquhon Castle in between 1584-1589. These operates, which integrated enhanced accommodations and updated gardens, had been an addition and renovation of the earlier Preston’s Tower, a fortification constructed by Sir John Forbes and his wife, Marjorie Preston, in the 1420s.
A stunning gatehouse sets the stage for the stop by, and right here you can spy the initials T.L. of master mason Thomas Leiper who contributed to Tolquhon Castle’s impressive facade in 1600. A vast courtyard opens inside the castle walls surrounded by a series of buildings, like Preston’s Tower replete with a fantastic hall, bedchambers, and a cellar, a round tower for guests, the principal property, William Forbes’s private residence with kitchen and fantastic fireplace, and eastern and western ranges for a bakehouse, prison, library, and gallery.
The exterior of Tolquhon Castle is surrounded by a pleasance, a strollable parkland for the trendy, and bee boles constructed into the western wall for hives. You will notice that even though most of the buildings are in really very good shape the roofs are practically totally missing. This is prevalent across Scotland due to the fact owners had to spend a sort of “roof tax” on buildings they owned. Castles are really high priced to retain, so when challenging economic occasions fell the owners of such areas would routinely pull down the roof to divest themselves of the tax.
Wandering amongst Tolquhon Castle’s buildings you will spy many intriguing specifics, like the hexagonal flagstones in the hall, huge fireplaces, and the statues on the gatehouse exterior. Tolquhon Castle was such an impressive manse in its day that King James VI visited just right after William Forbes’s renovations.
The Forbes family members sold Tolquhon Castle in the early 18th Century, even though one more William Forbes, the 11th laird, refused to leave and was forcibly dislodged by troops. Till the mid-19th Century Tolquhon Castle became small a lot more than a farmhouse in dire have to have of repair. In 1929 it was ultimately transferred to state care and preservation.
Like so a lot of of Scotland’s historic web sites, the history of Tolquhon Castle surely wends deeper than the records indicate. Along with Edzell Castle, Tolquhon Castle was one particular of my favourite finds on this journey via Angus and Aberdeenshire. I could’ve wandered these ruins for a lot longer than I did, but I didn’t want to be likened to the 11th Mr. Forbes and forcibly removed from the premises by the neighborhood constabulary.