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    Scotiana’s Favourite Castles in Scotland: Drum Castle

    Drum Castle is certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting castles we’ve visited in Scotland and when we went back to Drum for the second time, in May 2015, daffodils were still blooming here and there in the magnificent wooded park and the effect was truly magical! But there’s more than that. I remember pretty well our first impressions of the castle, a few years before, and how we had been immediately struck by the castle’s mixture of architectural styles…

    Drum Castle rear façade © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle rear façade © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle is situated in Aberdeenshire, about 10 miles from Aberdeen. The area is famous for its Castle Trail and we’ve visited a number of them: Braemar, Craigievar, Fraser, Fyvie, Huntly, Kildrummy, Slains and of course Drum Castle, visited for the first time in August 2007 and revisited in May 2015.

    “The Polish-American philosopher and scientist Alfred Korzybski once said that “the map is not the territory”. As far as I’m concerned, he might have been talking about rural Aberdeenshire. How hard can it be to find a large, pink castle among the wide-open Grampian foothills in Scotland’s castle country? This region is dense with medieval fortresses and majestic tower houses, so it makes sense that Britain’s first official Castle Trail has been launched here. If only I could follow it…

    Aberdeenshire can boast hundreds of castles – including Balmoral – but the Castle Trail highlights 14 specific destinations, between Banchory in the south and Elgin to the north (…)

    (Jackie Hunter – “Trail of the Unexpected: Scottish Castles” – The Independent26 June 2010 )

    Drum Castle general view © 2007 Scotiana

    Drum Castle general view © 2007 Scotiana

     “Coup de coeur pour ce vieux château dont l’architecture extérieure
    reflète clairement les différentes époques où il a été construit”… 

    (2007 Mairiuna’s travel diary)

    Drum Castle © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle © 2015 Scotiana

    Grey sky in August 2007/ blue sky in May 2015. Quite a different atmosphere !

    Drum Castle mascottes© 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle mascottes© 2015 Scotiana

    In 2015, our two mascots much enjoyed their visit at Drum Castle though they missed their Canadian travelling companions for Janice and her two mascots had not arrived yet 😉

    Drum Castle is rooted in history and its link with the Irvine family dates back from the beginning of the 14th century when Robert the Bruce granted the charter of the Barony of Drum to William de Irwyn in 1323.

    Drum Castle had been home to the Irvine family for more than six and a half centuries (24 generations) when it was bequeathed by lord Henry Quentine Irvine to the National Trust for Scotland in 1965 but family memorabilia are omnipresent in every room of the castle and the Irvine flag still flutters from the tower battlements.

    Members of the Irvine (or Irving) clan are disseminated all over the world and more particularly in Germany, Sweden and the United States. There are two famous American descendants of Clan Irvine:

    • Washington Irving (1783-1859) well known for his story Rip van Winkle
    • Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United Sates of America.
    Coat of arms of clan Irvine of Drum

    Coat of arms of clan Irvine of Drum

    “SUB SOLE SUB UMBRA VIRENS” is the clan’s motto and it means “Flourishing both in sunshine and in shade”- Their blazon reads in the heraldic jargon: “Argent three sheaves of three holly leaves Vert each tied with a ribbon Gules”.

     

    Drum Castle rear façade and tower © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle rear façade and tower © 2015 Scotiana

    The most striking element of the castle is its massive and fortified tower, one of the three oldest tower houses in Scotland. This granite pink and grey tower was probably built in the mid-thirteenth century for Alexander III by the medieval architect Richard Cementarius who also built the Bridge of Don in Old Aberdeen. It is linked by a connecting building to the beautiful Jacobean mansion. When we look at this tower today it is not difficult to imagine how impregnable this medieval fortress must have been at the times of the knights, when it was a matter of life and death to build such defensive buildings…

     

    Drum Castle tower entrance © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle tower entrance © 2015 Scotiana

    The one large window in the tower is a nineteenth-century alteration – originally it had only tiny windows or slits. (…)

    The present entrance is on the south side, where a relatively modern stone stair leads to the first-floor entrance. Originally a wooden ladder would have performed this function; it could be easily retracted in times of trouble. The tower was deliberately built with no entrance of any kind at ground level, making surprise capture extremely difficult. (Drum Castle, Garden & Estate – NTS brochure)

     

     

    Drum Castle Jacobean façade © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle Jacobean façade © 2015 Scotiana

    A view of the beautiful Jacobean pink façade, standing on its thick and green carpet.

    Drum Castle little tower © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle little tower © 2015 Scotiana

    Apart from its impressive medieval tower,  the castle is full of very interesting architectural features: crow-stepped gables, round turrets with conical slated roofs, multi-paned windows. On a dormer window of the Jacobean façade one can read the initials of Alexander Irvine and his wife Marion Douglas who built this range. A funny detail is to be found on the stone carrying the date of the building: it reads 6191 instead of 1619 😉

    Visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside Drum castle and it is a pity for it is a cavern of Ali Baba full of the memorabilia treasured over 24 generations of Irvines : paintings, pieces of furniture, decorative items, old books and toys…

    As usual when visiting the Scottish castles our favourite two rooms were the library and the nursery! The library contains no less than 4000 books, many of them being law books. One of the most precious document is an ancient Roman Law Code.  There are not many  books of literature on the shelves (some classics, poetry and plays by Shakespeare). People can do research in the archives of the library, explained our guide.

    Drum Castle chapel © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle chapel © 2015 Scotiana

    To the south-west of Drum, surrounded by yews and hollies, stands a lovely 16th century chapel. It was restored in 1856 in memory of the six-year-old son of the 19th laird who died that year and is buried in the chapel. We didn’t stay very long for it was late and the lady of the keys was waiting for us outside… just time enough to catch a glimpse of the beautiful stained-glass window.

    Drum Castle Chapel © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle Chapel © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle archay exit with two cheese-presses on the left Drum Castle chapel © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle archay exit with two cheese-presses on the left Drum Castle chapel © 2015 Scotiana

    Here’s the archway exit from the castle courtyard.  Note, on the left of the door, the two cheese presses standing in front of the building which was once used as a dairy. I would never have guessed…

    Drum Castle sign post garden pond chapel tower © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle sign post garden pond chapel tower © 2015 Scotiana

    After visiting the castle, we had still plenty of time to stroll in the park and take pictures.

    Drum Castle garden © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle garden © 2015 Scotiana

    The gardens date back to the 18 th century and include a Garden of Historic Roses and an arboretum which contains trees from all regions of the 18 th century British Empire. Some of them are very old and majestic.

    Drum Castle Douglas fir tree © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle Douglas fir tree © 2015 Scotiana

    ………..

    Drum Castle a big Douglas fir tree © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle a big Douglas fir tree © 2015 Scotiana

    Just to give you an idea of the size of this tree! Something tells me that we have antagonized this creature! Maybe “he” does not like to be photographed 😉

    Drum Castle - A strangely expressive tree © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle – A strangely expressive tree © 2015 Scotiana

    And what about this one ?

    Autumn leaves at Drum Castle Source Wikimedia geograph.org.uk_-_617513

    Autumn leaves at Drum Castle Source Wikimedia geograph.org.uk_-_617513

    Wow ! Alas, I can just dream about these beautiful gardens in Autumn…

    Drum Castle gardens statue of a small child © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle gardens statue of a small child © 2015 Scotiana

    In one corner of the garden, we discovered this  lovely statue of a small child holding a dove. An inscription reads “Gifted by the Aberdeen and district members centre in memory of David Dyer and Norris Forrest”.

    Drum Castle garden fairy statue © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle garden fairy statue © 2015 Scotiana

    And guess what? On our way to the rose garden, we met a lovely fairy. She said to us that she was the “Fairy of the Pond”. There is a pond here even if you can’t see it on our picture 😉

    Drum Castle garden Japanese 'quince' © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle garden Japanese ‘quince’ © 2015 Scotian

    This wonderful garden can’t be more appropriate to shelter elves and fairies?

    A few shrubs are in bloom like this magnificent Chaenomeles japonica (Japanese ‘quince’), known as Maule’s quince… un cognassier du Japon, or so it seems to me for my mother had a beautiful one in her front garden…

    Drum Castle garden © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle garden © 2015 Scotiana

    We lingered in this garden of Eden for a long time…

    Unfortunately for us, in May, it was too early in the season to see the roses in bloom, with a lovely exception however : the little white rose…

    Drum Castle Historic rose garden the little white rose © 2015 Scotiana

    Drum Castle Historic rose garden the little white rose © 2015 Scotiana

    The rose of all the world is not for me.
    I want for my part
    Only the little white rose of Scotland
    That smells sharp and sweet—and breaks the heart.

    (The Little White Rose by Hugh MacDiarmid)

    Drum Castle is definitely one of our favourite castles in Scotland but there are many more to discover or re-discover in this country we love so much. I will be very happy to share with you other pages of our Scottish photo album…

    So, à bientôt !

    Mairiuna

     

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    1 comment to Scotiana’s Favourite Castles in Scotland: Drum Castle

    • Natounette

      What a magical post as ever! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderfull experience. The green man who welcomed you has something of a majestic ghost.
      It makes me feel I would love to be there too, to meet all the spirits of the nature.
      Why not during a next trip with you?
      Warm kisses
      Natounette

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