Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle, Scotland, edition of 100
Copyright 1996 Catriona Fraser
Limited Edition of 100
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This fairy tale castle in the Grampian region of Scotland is one of the masterworks of Scottish baronial architecture and the zenith of Caledonian style of fortified-house architecture.

Named after a nearby hill, the present castle was built in 1610 by William Forbes, nicknamed "Danzig Willie" due to his extensive merchant ties to Poland. It is much earlier, (in 1457) that the name of Craigievar Castle first appears in any record, and then it is as the possession of the ancient family of Mortimer, and it is to them that the raising of the original castle is attributed. However in 1610 financial troubles forced the Mortimers to sell the lands of Craigievar along with the unfinished castle, to William Forbes of Menie.

William Forbes, who was the brother of the famous Bishop of Aberdeen, built the castle between 1610 and 1626, and his descendants in the Forbes family occupied the castle until 1963, when it was turned over to the National Trust of Scotland. William was succeeded by his son, also William, who was granted the title of Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1630.

Once Civil War broke out, Sir William was involved in many battles, leading the capture of Harthill Castle in 1640 and being captured (he later escaped) at the battle of Aberdeen in 1644.

The L-shaped castle, despite its peaceful appearance with French and Spanish turrets, was once heavily fortified, with a surrounding wall (now removed) and with a single, heavily defended entrance. The Laird of the castle and his family occupied the top part of the castle, while soldiers and an ever lit kitchen resided in the bottom plan of the castle, allowing heat to rise to the Laird's quarters.

Despite many attacks and sieges, Craigievar never fell in battle, mostly against rival clans in Scotland's bloody clan warfare, and its appearance is virtually unchanged since it was built. Another Forbes stronghold, Castle Forbes is located less than an hour north of Craigievar.

A coat of arms over the main staircase is dated from 1668 and delivers the Forbes family motto: "Doe not vaiken sleiping dogs."

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