In honor of National Castle Month, our Got Wanderlust image is of a most dramatic and evocative shot of Dunnottar Castle clinging precariously to the cliffs near Stone Haven in northeastern Scotland. This craggy outcrop has been inhabited since Pictish times (5000 BC to 700 AD) although an exact date is not known. In the 5th Century St Ninian brought Christianity to the region and chose Dunnottar as a site for one of his first churches, then vikings seized and destroyed the castle in the 9th century. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, & King Charles II have all found their way to this magnificent fortress.

The castle was besieged by William Wallace in 1297 and immortalized in an epic poem by “Blind Harry”, a 15th Century poet, serving as the basis for the 1996 film “Braveheart”. Dunnottar later became the seat of the Earls Marischal, one of the most powerful families in Scotland, to whom the Royal Crown Jewels were given for safe keeoing in time of war, and from whom the castle was seized in 1715 for their part in the Jacobite Rising. The ruins also include the “Whig’s Vault” where a group of Covenanters, who refused to acknowledge the King’s supremacy in spiritual matters, were imprisoned in 1685.

Unfortunately, Dunnottar was forced to close to the public in late 2013 indefinitely due to structural issues (Scotsman article).

Wanderlust Tours owner and docent, Shawnie Kelley, studied architectural history and worked as an architectural historian for both Historic Scotland and English Heritage. She designs and conducts tours through many of Europe’s great castles and cathedrals.