I recently took the Dafter and one of her friends to visit Craigievar Castle. It’s recently been recovered with lime harling (it was suffering from having been coated with non-breathable cement for a few decades) and is now a beautiful shade of pink. Like many of the castles around Aberdeen, there is only one door to the castle, and still many signs of it having been built in a dangerous and tumultuous time. The larger windows were put in during Victorian times. The castle was built in 1610, and was lived in by the Forbes family over the centuries until 1964 – and still has no electricity!
As our tour guide took us up through very wee circular staircases into the many rooms on the seven floors, the girls and I tried to imagine what it must have been like to live there with only open fires for heat and candles and lamps for light. Once we reached the wooden boxbeds of the servants on the top floor, we agreed that we would not want to be the first person up to light the fires and carry wood.
I wish I could have taken photographs of the inside to show you – you’ll have to imagine beautiful tapestries, plaster ceilings done in the 1620s by Italian plasterers, and furniture and wall panelling made of local woods. One item that we saw sitting innocuously on a windowsill in the main hall is the scold’s bridle that the laird used to use on his female subjects who were accused of talking too much. The Dafter and her friend looked at the metal bars that lock over the head, and were particularly horrified by the metal piece that fits into the mouth. B, aged 10, asked the perceptive question: “Why is it always the women?” I mumbled something about how women used to be – and still are in other parts of the world – seen as inferior to men and needing to be controlled. (What would the laird have thought of all the women blogging today?!)
The top floor, as you can see from the photo, is larger than the floors below.
The rooms on the top floors were the bedrooms and nursery rooms. In one of them our guide stopped us to ask if any of us had sensed the Craigievar ghost. (Cue the girls shrieking and clutching each other.) Apparently, a few hundred years ago one of the daughters of the Forbes family fell in love with the son of a rival clan, the Gordons. He was discovered in her bedroom and was given the choice of being killed then and there, or jumping out the window. He chose the latter and as you can imagine did not survive. His ghost is said to make the occasional appearance in the room – but he didn’t make himself known the day we visited.
It was an enjoyable afternoon out.