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Dunnottar Castle

Cliff Fort

<b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by tomatomanImage © tomatoman
Nearest Town:Stonehaven (3km NNW)
OS Ref (GB):   NO881839 / Sheet: 45
Latitude:56° 56' 46.39" N
Longitude:   2° 11' 44.26" W

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<b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by tomatoman <b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by postman <b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by postman <b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Dunnottar Castle</b>Posted by postman


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Oh Dunnottar... the 'slope fort' (from the Gaelic 'Dun' [fort] and Fothair [slope]). At first sight the gaunt castle ruins, seeming almost to sprout from the living rock upon which they stand (between Castle Haven and Old Hall Bay, just to the south of Stonehaven), promise an interlude from the intensity of hunting the many RSC's in the area. A few hours by the sea to regain some perspective, perhaps? But then the sheer importance of this site, not only to Scottish history, but to the prehistory of this magical land becomes apparent to the interested traveller.

First, the history - the castle was established in the 14th Century, the walls no doubt incorporating elements of the preceding Pictish fort which once stood on the site, and must have been pretty well impregnable before the advent of heavy artillery. Wallace invested it, ditto Cromwellian forces between September 1651 and May 1652. It was during the latter siege that a Mrs Grainger, wife of Kinneff's minister, managed to blag herself an exit and spirit away the Scottish crown hidden in her dress. One assumes she was a somewhat hefty lass... as Private Fraser out of Dad's Army would say, 'wi' nice, firm thighs...'. But I digress.

For me, however, it is the natural defences of Dunnottar, the great crag jutting out into the sea, which make a visit here a must to all those with a passion for the past, a past which, if understood, can perhaps guide the modern Scotland towards a more balanced and confident future. Much has been written about Scots gaelic culture... not all of it to the nation's benefit, in my opinion (the ludicrous Braveheart, anyone?)... coinciding with devolution and the roaring success of the Tiger economy across the Irish Sea before the recent crash. Comparatively little has been written about the people who once inhabited Dunnottar in prehistory, a people who have arguably - to use a modern term - been retrospectively 'photoshopped' out of Scotland's story. The Picts.

So who were the Picts, these people who apparently scared the living daylights out of many a Roman legionnary, yet carved exquisite stones? Theres's apparently not an awful lot to go on. However legend has it Dunnottar was chosen by the Picts due to it's association with 'The Green Lady', no doubt some reference to a Mother Goddess?. Climb upon its rock, with the seagulls a'wheeling around your head in a cacophony of noise and I've no doubt you'll understand what they meant. Well, at least a little.....

Like Dunluce upon the Antrim coast, the castle here is almost an irrelevance compared with the rawness of nature at this site. If you're after a starting point to gauge the spirit of the Picts I'd argue here is as good a place to start as any....
8th February 2010ce
Edited 10th February 2013ce


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Dunnottar Castle Website

An official website with details of opening times, plus history of this marvellous site.
8th February 2010ce