Aberdeenshire in northeast Scotland is a landscape of gentle, rolling hills, wide swaths of pastures and farms, and a dense layer of history beneath. These reminders of the previous — castles, standing stones, and vitrified hillforts — punctuate the veneer of modernity about pretty much just about every corner and serve modern day minds as photos of wondrous dissonance. This area is Scotland’s “castle nation,” but right here you will also come across far older remains, sights like South Ythsie and the topic of today’s missive, Dunnideer Castle.
Referring to Dunnideer as a castle is a bit generous, but it is an undeniably cool check out and an approachable hike in the heart of Aberdeenshire. Dunnideer Hill (from time to time spelled Dunnydeer) stands just south of the A96 and west of the town of Insch. Scudding involving pastures you will come across a wooden post with a sign declaring the distances to Dunnideer Fort and some standing stones. Sounds cool. Let’s do it.
A slim path winds gently uphill by means of a finger of forest separating farm fields. A tiny additional on from the road, as the tree line breaks, you catch glimpses of a square ruin surmounting a slope of yellow gorse. That is, certainly, Dunnideer Castle and the terminus of the hike. I climbed by means of a pair of kissing gates and left the forest beneath overcast but mild skies with very good visibility and views of agricultural Aberdeenshire.
I passed a handful of dog walkers along the low ridge that connected the forest to the gorse-studded hilltop, then started wending my way involving the thorny shrubs. Fortunately the path was clear due to the fact gorse is a severe deterrent. Staring at the ruins above me, I could visualize this hillside fully defended by humble gorse with nary a way for invading enemies to method the castle. This is an straightforward hike that will get you only a tiny winded by the time you attain the stoney facade visible from the woods.
From atop Dunnideer Hill, which overlooks the Shevock River, the views are wide-ranging and would have been of apparent utility to any person hunting to defend this slice of fertile highlands. A rectangular hillfort with double ramparts was constructed right here by the 3rd century BC. More than the years it seems to have had a third rampart and a vitrified inner wall. Vitrification is the procedure by which stone is fused collectively by means of intense heat. Vitrified forts are discovered all more than Scotland, but it is not clear (at least to me) how ancient individuals generated the intensity of heat necessary for vitrification. Properly, it is certainly magic, but…you know…
Dunnideer Castle was a very simple tower residence constructed inside the earthworks of the old vitrified hillfort. It is regarded to be the oldest extant tower residence in Scotland, which is a neat factoid, and it would have had numerous floors set amongst ancillary buildings like storehouses, stables, brewhouses, and other equivalent ilk.
We do not have conclusive proof indicating who constructed Dunnideer Castle, but neighborhood wisdom is that Gregory the Excellent, king of the Picts, constructed the castle in AD 880. The initial mention of Dunnideer Castle is from a record dated AD 1260 when Sir John de Balliol, the Lord of Dunnideer, created a grant to Lindores Abbey. There are some extremely popular connections right here!
Wandering about the ruins of Dunnideer Castle alone was a pleasure. These are the moments I reside for when exploring Scotland — that beguiling mixture of history, imagination, and organic beauty.
On my descent from Dunnideer Hill I passed back into the forest and discovered the mysterious standing stones referenced from the road. Millennia have disguised them as maybe just some tumble-down stones, but who knows what ancient rites had been practiced upon Dunnideer Hill when the globe was young?
No matter whether you are out for a hike, an investigation into neighborhood history, or merely want to preserve dreaming, Dunnideer Castle ticks all the boxes.