One of the ancestral homes of the powerful clan Fraser, the castle is nestled in the Grampian hills northwest of Aberdeen, near the River Don. Built in 1575, (it took 35 years to finish) the castle was the home of the Frasers until 1921. It is considered one of the most spectacular castles in a region well-known for its castles.
It was during the last tenure of Laird Frederick MacKenzie Fraser that a princess was killed in the castle's Green Room and dragged down the stairs, which thereafter could never be cleansed of the bloodstains. The ghost of the princess reportedly haunts the castle and is quite fond of rearranging furniture.
Clan Fraser is of Norman origin, and the bloodlines were brought to Great Britain by a knight named Frezel, from the lordship of La Frezeliere in Anjou. Legend traces the origin of the name Fraser to Jules de Berry, a tenth century French gentleman who served a plate of strawberries to King Charles the Simple and was knighted with the name "Fraiser", (French for strawberry). In acknowledgment of this legend, the Frasers have always borne strawberry flowers in their coat of arms.
The earliest known Scottish Fraser was Gilbert de Fraser, who lived near the Borders in 1109. However the main line of Fraser developed from Sir Gilbert of Touch-Fraser, who died in 1263. Sir Laurence Abernethy was created 1st Lord Saltoun in 1445. A junior branch of the family, Fraser of Lovat descended from Hugh Fraser who married the Bisset heiress and obtained her lands; they are known in Gaelic as "Na Friosalaich".
Sir Simon Fraser was a supporter of Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) in the Wars of Independence against England, and just like Wallace, he was captured by the English, hanged, drawn and quartered.
Because of feuding clan issues, a great battle between the Frasers and MacDonalds was fought in 1544 on the shores of Loch Locky. The battle was known as "The Battle of Shirts," since the combatants removed their shirts, and drenched with sweat, dust and blood, fought until there were five Frasers (of over 200 who had started the fight) and eight MacDonalds were left standing.
The town of Fraserburgh in Scotland was founded by Alexander Fraser, 8th Laird of Philorth in 1570. In 1670 the Frasers inherited the Saltoun peerage and since then Frasers have been Lords Saltoun. In 1745, the Frasers joined the doomed forces of the Jacobites at Culloden.
It was Simon, 11th Lord Lovat (who had been exiled to France for having seized the widow of his cousin, the 9th Lord) who returned in 1715 to support the Government forces and his exile was terminated. In 1740 he joined the Young Pretender, was appointed General of the Highlands and created Duke of Fraser. He was arrested in 1746 and beheaded in London (the last beheading in Britain).
By 1757, almost 2,000 Frasers were raised by the clan to fight in America, where they fought with many honors. The castle boasts walls that are three-feet thick, needed in the violent days of medieval clan warfare. Additionally, the Great Hall has a typical "Laird's Lug" (Scot for Lord's Ear), a secret wall area for eavesdropping on visitors.