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Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser Aberdeenshire Scotland

An immense Z plan tower house with projecting wings that form a courtyard, and perfectly at ease with its magnificent natural surroundings, Castle Fraser is among the finest baronial homes of northern Europe. This is fitting, for the Frasers are a Scotto-Norman family of great antiquity. Records point to their origins in Anjou, remembered in the Fraser arms of silver strawberry flowers or frasiers on an azur field. Medieval Frasers who held lands in Tweeddale, East Lothian and Stirlingshire played a prominent part in the Wars for Scottish Independence, none more so than the great champion Sir Simon Fraser who shared the same barbaric fate as his friend William Wallace. In the later medieval period, branches of the family resettled further north; the Lovat Frasers entrenched themselves within Beaufort Castle near Beauly while the Frasers of Philorth moved to the north east in 1375.

A minor branch of the complex Fraser family system, the Donside lairds of Castle Fraser trace their ancestry from Sir Alexander Fraser of Cornton, who fought alongside Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Methven in 1306 and was captured and executed in the field. Thomas Fraser of Cornton resigned his Stirlingshire lands to James II in the mid fifteenth century in exchange for estates in Aberdeenshire. The Frasers of Muchall steered a tortuous path through the difficult politics of Scotland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The third Baron Fraser was a zealous Covenanter who entertained Montrose within the castle. Later, in his royalist phase, Montrose twice threatened Castle Fraser. The fourth laird was a dedicated Jacobite. His stepson, Charles Fraser of Inverallochy, led his men at Culloden but was captured and shot by specific order of Butcher Cumberland.

Originally known as the Castle of Muchil-in-Mar, Castle Fraser was begun around 1455 upon Thomas' arrival in the north east but his early keep was absorbed in 1575 within a larger Z tower commissioned by Michael Fraser of Stoneywood. These ambitious works were only finished in 1636 by his son Andrew, created Lord Fraser in 1633 by Charles I. The great mason, John Bell, who worked on the other masterpieces of Mar at Craigievar, Crathes and Midmar, was responsible for much of the final work here. The castle with its profusion of turrets, decorative stone cannon, battlements, and balustraded great round tower has had little need of its defenses.

 

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