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Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser is an immense 16th Century Z-plan castle and one of the grandest of the 'Castles of Mar'. It was originally built as a home for the Frasers of Muchalls. It was modernised in the 18th and 19th Centuries, but it retains features from each part of its history.

The First Keep

Thomas Fraser of Cornton gave up his lands in Stirlingshire to King James II, he was given lands in Muchalls in Aberdeenshire in exchange.

Thomas Fraser started building the first castle here around 1455, but his keep was merged into the main castle in 1575. The castle we see today was started by Michael Fraser, 6th Laird of Fraser.

The castle took a long time to complete and it was finished in 1636 by his son Andrew Fraser. The final work on the castle was completed by the master mason John Bell who also worked on the great castles at Craigievar and Crathes.

Thomas's castle was extended with two large towers at either end of the building. The north-west tower, slightly offset from the body of the building, was completed first and the circular tower in the south-east was added next. Between them these formed the Z-plan of the castle.

It was Andrew who extended two wings north from the castle and enclosed the courtyard.

Siege and Modernisation

Andrew Fraser, 3rd Lord Fraser was an avid Covenanter. He entertained the Marquess of Montrose at Fraser Castle in 1638, but was later besieged by him when Montrose switched to the Royalist side. Montrose sacked Fraser Castle in 1644.

The 4th Lord Fraser was a Jacobite who led men during the uprising in 1715. He forfeited his barony and died in 1716 while on the run.

In the 18th Century the castle was in the possession of Elyza Fraser. She undertook a programme of modernisation at the castle. A new entrance was put into the south side and the aging windows were replaced with sash windows. She also landscaped the grounds and built the impressive stable block.

Between 1820 and 1850 Charles Fraser refurbished the castle's interiors. He built the Library and decorated the house with fine Tudor detailing. He also constructed the twin gatehouses.

The National Trust for Scotland bought the property in 1976 and run it as a heritage site, accommodation, event venue and they hire it out for functions and weddings.

Inside the castle there are features from every part of the castle's history and it retains many of its original contents, including Fraser family portraits, furniture and interior designs.

The stone-vaulted Great Hall takes you back to the medieval castle and a short time later the Library sends you forward to the 19th Century.

Outside the gardens have been restored to their 18th Century glory. The traditional walled garden includes trees, shrubs, herbaceous borders and a medicinal border. Interpretation boards explain the various parts of the garden and how they relate to the plants use in the house.

The garden and grounds around the castle are open all year. Castle Fraser itself is open from late March until the end of October.

During the summer months a number of events are held at the castle including a jousting weekend, Christmas carol concert and regular guided walks and tours.

Other facilities available at the castle include toilets, a tearoom, gift shop, children's play area and car parking.

Status: Visitor Attraction / Heritage Site / Restaurant / Wedding Venue
Owner: National Trust for Scotland
Tel: 0844 493 2164
Opening Times: 27th March to 30th June Wed-Sun 12pm-5pm / 1st July to 31st August Daily 11am-5pm / 1st September to 31st October Wed-Sun 12pm-5pm / Garden and grounds open all year

The courtyard and the great keep
View in through the rear of the courtyard at Castle Fraser

The rear of the castle
The back of Castle Fraser

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