Dunnottar Castle is situated 50 miles
northeast of Dundee, 18 miles south of Aberdeen, 2
miles south of Stonehaven.
This is one of the most notable Castles in
Scotland with its dramatic setting out on
The Castle was home to the Keith Clan for
over 500 years, and was where the Scottish
Crown and Scepter were kept during the Jacobite
Rebellion in 1651.
The Castle can be visited throughout the
year with an entrance fee. Postcode: AB39
Click On Map for Area Attractions
Camping & Touring Parks in
The image top is from the car park looking
down to the castle, about a 300 yard walk.
The second image shows the path down to the
The third image shows the entrance to the
castle. This part is steep down and back up
into the castle.
It is free to view the castle from the
cliffs and roam around the area for incredible
views. There is also a path 2 miles north to
the town of Stonehaven. There is a small fee to
enter the castle.
Dunnottar Castle History
681 & 694 - there are records stating
the Pictish King, Brude, carried out two
attacks on a fortress in this area as he tried
to extend his power over the northeast of
Scotland. It is unclear if this fortress was
where Dunnottar Castle stands today, or close
by. Pictish Kings only ruled parts of Scotland.
It was not until the 1100s that Kings began to
rule all of Scotland.
900 - King Domnall
II, first King of Alba, was killed at
Dunnottar during an attack by Vikings.
1276 - a church on the site was consecrated
by the Bishop of St Andrews, William
1297 - claims are William Wallace captured
Dunnottar during the Wars of Scottish
Independence. The story states he
imprisoned English soldiers in the church then
burned them alive.
1336 - during the the Second War of
Scottish Independence, Edward III of
England tried to have Dunnottar Castle rebuilt,
but Sir Andrew Murray led a force that
destroyed the defenses again.
1382 - William Keith took control of
William Keith built the tower house at
Dunnottar and probably began building the outer
walls with stone, replacing the earlier timber
1458 - Sir William Keith became the first
Earl Marischal. The Castle complex was extended
over the following centuries.
1504 - the impressive Castle at Dunnottar
led to a visit by King James IV.
1562 - Mary Queen of Scots visited Dunnottar
after the Battle of
Corrichie by Aberdeen. That battle took
place after the Gordon's had refused to accept
Mary as their Queen.
1580 - James VI stayed for 10 days hunting
and looking into court duties in the area.
1581 - George Keith
became the 5th Earl Marischal. He carried out
extensive work transforming the rugged fortress
into a more modern Castle with a luxurious
Palace. Keith was also the founder of Marischal
College in Aberdeen.
1638 - King Charles I attempted to impose a
Book of Common Prayer on the Scots. This led to
uprisings by Scots known as Covenanters.
These uprisings led to more wars such as the
Bishops' Wars, Wars of the Three Kingdoms,
English Civil War, Scottish Civil War, and
Irish Confederate Wars.
1639 - William Keith, 7th Earl Marischal,
supported the Covenanters in
their fight. He joined the Marquess of Montrose
to lead a Covenanter army of over 9000 men to
attack Royalists at Aberdeen. This action set
of a series of wars with Covenanters being
hunted down throughout Scotland.
1642 - the English Civil
War breaks out as the Parliament rebels
against the unpopular Charles I.
1649 - Charles I was executed by beheading,
leading to Oliver Cromwell, leader of the
Parliament forces, taking control of all
Briton. Cromwell had the English Crown Jewels
destroyed at that time.
1650 June - Charles Stuart, son of Charles
I, returns from exile in Europe and visits
Dunnottar as he makes his case to become King
of Scotland. This sets off a war with the
Parliamentarians led by Cromwell.
1650 September - Cromwell leads a force into
Scotland where they defeated the Scots at
1651 January - Charles II was crowned at
Scone Palace with the Honour's of
Scotland, crown, sword and scepter.
1651 June - the Honour's of Scotland were
taken to Dunnottar Castle for safety.
1651 October - Charles II flees to exile in
1651 November - Cromwell's troops besieged
1652 March - the Honour's of Scotland were
smuggled out of the castle and hidden in
Kinneff Church 6 miles south.
1652 May - artillery arrived at the Castle
leading to Dunnottar being surrendered to
Much of the castle's property and cannon
were removed at this time.
1660 - Charles II was restored to the throne
of all Briton, with the Honour's of Scotland
being returned to the King.
1685 - Charles II dies with his brother
becoming King James II, a Catholic with close
ties to France.
1685 - a rebellion led by the Earl of Argyll
against King James II ended with 167
Covenanters seized and held in a cellar at
Dunnottar. Some escaped, died trying to escape,
or were transported to America. Some were
released after swearing allegiance to the
1689 - the Protestant Queen Mary and her
husband King William became co-rulers of
England, Scotland and Ireland after the
Revolution that led to them overthrowing
Mary's father, James II. James
was the last Catholic monarch. The English
Parliament feared Catholic Monarchs as they
were too close to their main enemy, the French.
This would lead to conflicts such as the
Jacobite Risings, people supporting Catholics
with a claim to the throne.
1689 - Dunnottar was used to house troops of
Mary and William during the early Jacobite
1715 - George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal,
fought with the Jacobite's at the Battle of
Sheriffmuir. After the failure of that
Rising, Lord Marischal fled to the Continent
where he became French ambassador for Frederick
the Great of Prussia.
1716 - the titles and estates of George
Keith were forfeited to the Crown.
1720 - the estates of George Keith were sold
to the York Buildings
Company. This English investment company
bought a number of Jacobite estates that had
been taken over by the Crown. They soon hit
financial problems, leading to them selling off
anything they could, including the lead from
Dunnottar Castles roof, leading to much of the
Castle falling into ruin.
1761 - George Keith returned to Scotland and
bought back Dunnottar. The wet Scottish weather
soon led to him returning to Europe.
1766 - Dunnottar was sold to Alexander
Keith, an Edinburgh lawyer. The castle
remained in this family for the following 107
1873 - Major Alexander Innes of Cowie and
Raemoir bought Dunnottar for about £80,000.
1925 - the castle was sold to Weetman
Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray, with his wife
taking control of restorations.
The castle was opened to the public around
this time, becoming one of the top attractions
1970 - Dunnottar Castle and the headland was
designated as a scheduled monument.
1972 - a number of buildings in the castle
were listed as being of national
1990 - the film Hamlet,
starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close had some
scenes shot at the Castle.
Today - the youngest son of the 3rd Viscount
Cowdray runs Dunnottar Castle which is part of
the 52,000-acre Dunecht Estates.