Castle Fraser is one of Scotland’s largest tower houses, dating back to the 15th century yet still in remarkably condition in spite of it. Located outside of Aberdeen, Castle Fraser is a Scottish castle for the ages and holds an incredible collection of items to show off the once powerful family seat of the Frasers. Adding this castle to your to-do list while you explore the Scottish Highlands is a must.
We’ll be breaking down the history of Castle Fraser, how to get there, and the top attractions to look forward to while you’re there.
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History of Castle Fraser
Castle Fraser’s history likely starts in the 15th century, when James II gaves numerous baronies throughout the region – one of which was a man called Thomas Fraser. In return, Fraser surrendered to the Crown and gave up his titles and lands south of Stirling. There may have been a castle already, but if there wasn’t then Thomas Fraser completed rapid construction to create the three distinctive peaks of this notable tower house.
By 1578, the Frasers had prospered greatly and the new laird, Michael Fraser, expanded the castle to reflect this. He hired master mason John Bell to build the famed “Michael Tower”, which were modelled after famous Aberdeenshire castles of the time. In addition, the mason also added several other towers to bolster the Z-shaped castle with a few more quirky features.
Andrew Fraser completed the expansions that Michael undertook, creating a stunning castle that would elevate the Fraser family to new heights. Andrew was made the 1st Lord of Fraser, and he built two new wings for the castle during this age of prosperity. However, the Fraser family would soon experience conflict as the 1600s came around.
Throughout the 1600s, the Fraser family saw knock after knock from supporting the losing side of history. This led them to not only suffering a siege and much of their wealthy during a Royalist attack, but also losing their Castle to the Earl of Mar to pay off their debts. While they still lived at Castle Fraser, their loyalty was tied up to the Earl of Mar.
As such, they supported the Earl suring the Jacobite Risings, and then head of the family Charles Fraser had to become a fugitive once the uprising was defeated. A scattered and less powerful Fraser family meant that Castle Fraser would slowly fall to ruin over the next few centuries under the upkeep of several successive tenants.
It was only in 1921, when the Castle would be granted to Clive Pearson, that Castle Fraser would slowly and thorugh generations of work begin to resemble how it looked when the 1st Lord Fraser used it as their residence. Today, Fraser Castle is under the management of the National Trust for Scotland and holds a stunning reserve of period furnishings and trophies gathered over time.
Details to Know
Castle Fraser is a fantastic visitor attraction for history lovers and nonchalent holiday-goers alike! The Castle is open throughout the year, with varying opening times depending when you arrive but usually between 10:30 – 16:00, with last entry at 15:00.
Entry prices for adults cost £15.50, family tickets cost £35.00, and concession tickets cost £12.00. There is free car parking at Castle Fraser, and pets are welcome to explore the local area and wider estate.
Attractions at Castle Fraser
Castle Fraser has several beautiful attractions for visitors to look forward to, from the waymarked walks throughou the herbaceous borders that line the estate to an in-depth castle tour that informs about the various ways the Fraser family made use of the property. Here are some of the top things to do while visiting Castle Fraser.
Take a Walk Through the Walled Garden
The traditional walled garden of Castle Fraser is one of its most beautiful parts of your visit. There are two waymarked walks that you can traverse, taking you through specimen trees, the medicinal border, and through gardens of fruit and vegetables.
The Alton Brae Walk takes you right up to the Flight Pond, were guests can see dragonflies whizzing to and fro as well as otters playing in the waters if you’re lucky. The Path is two and half kilometres of unsurfaced grounds, so make sure to bring walking boots!
The other waymarked walk is Miss Bristow’s Trail, which is an idyllic jaunt through the flowering grounds with the spectacular Castle Fraser still in view. Visitors are able to walk the garden estate from dawn til dusk, making it the superb place to take dogs or other pets out for a walk.
Pick Up a Souvenir at the Gift Shop
Castle Fraser’s souvenir shop is the perfect place to pick up a token to remember your trip to this historic monument by.
The Castle Fraser gift shop has exclusive gifts of the castle, from clothing adorned with crests of the Fraser family to delicious whisky and food picked from the local area. If you need a gift to remember your visit or to give some back home, this gift shop is the place to be.
If you’re feeling for more than a snack to take along the road, Castle Fraser’s refurbished courtyard tearoom awaits! Taste delicious local tears, pick up a sandwich for the road, and be sure to try the locally sourced luncheons if you’re planning to say a little longer.
Enjoy Panoramic Views from Atop Castle Fraser
While you soak in the history of Castle Fraser, set aside time to climb to the top round tower and see the magnificent views of the Aberdeenshire countryside. The three storey tall towers allow you to look a great distance into the Scottish Highlands, with views that stretch over the tops of trees and faraway hills.
As you’re walking to the tops of these towers, keep an eye out for the beautiful portaits depicting the Fraser family and their close allies, which even includes a Raeburn portait!
Tour Through Castle Fraser’s Interior
Taking a tour through Castle Fraser is undeniably the highlight of the attraction. The Castle is filled with secret tradoors, hidden alcobes and doorways, and even a spy hole. The Laird’s Lug is one of many quirky features that you can expect to see, alongside period furnishings that allow a glimpse into the pass. Each laird stamped their mark into the walls of Castle Fraser, giving it a chaotic and exciting layout.
Victorian bedrooms decorated with striking simplicity, a well stocked library retelling global adventures, and a Medieval great hall transport you to a different time indeed. The sights are elevated with sound thanks to the recent Sounds of Fraser addition, which adds sound interpretation to each room, painting them with a historic atmosphere based on real reseach.
From the ground floor right to the topmost towers that offer magnificent views, please take your time exploring Castle Fraser’s gorgeous and well maintained interior.