We had not planned to stop at Craigievar Castle as it was built in a later period than we were interested in, but it was not far off our route so we headed for there next. Located on a hillside in a lush valley, it is a beautiful castle. Considered to be one of the best preserved tower house in Scotland, it was built in the late 16th Century. It is a single tower that combines elements of two types of castles. It is like two castles built on top of each other. It is a beautiful salmon-pink in colour, which was recently restored to it's original colours. The castle is built with as much mortar as stone, but the outside walls as well as the inside ones are all harled with plaster. The outside plaster done in a pink hue. We have come to understand and appreciate that many castles would have been plastered over, at least on the inside walls, and often on the outside walls as well. You see castles in their dilapidated shape with the just the bare stone, but they must have been brighter and more attractive in their day. One can imagine these spaces brightly painted and decorated with tapestries and other wall hangings.
Craigievar was a grand palace home of the Forbes family who bought the land and small castle in 1610. Not satisfied with the small keep that was only 4 stories tall, William Forbes commissioned a major renovation and expansion that saw the 'castle' grew by 3 stories and was totally renovated in the grand style of the times. The architect increased the width of the upper floors (above the original castle) by adding rounded towers that stick out from the lower levels by a few feet. The ceilings on all levels are fantastically done with carved plaster. The rooms are all richly panelled in wood and exquisitely furnished. The Forbes family held the castle until it was purchased by the National Trust for Scotland in the 1960's for £30,000. The castle came to the Trust fully furnished, so nothing much has been added.
There is no electrical lighting or heating in the building. The Forbes family refused to upgrade it, and finally moved to a more modern home.
Dan took the full tour of the full castle, while Linda stayed in the small lobby and got a virtual tour from one of the off duty guides. We saw / heard about many interesting things, including the impressive plaster ceilings (they took 3 years to complete), the expensive furnishings, 'angels' beds, the box beds, ghosts, and the renovations.
A major restoration project was finished up in 2009 at Craigievar Castle where the cement sealant that was applied in the 70's was removed (the cement trapped in the moisture and caused more damage than it prevented) and new lime-based mortar was re-applied. We encountered this at a number of castles and historical sites, where past efforts to preserve had damaged the buildings.