Castle Fraser (Muchall Castle), Aberdeenshire
~ History ~
1454 ~ King James II takes over the ancient and powerful north-eastern earldom of Mar and begins settling loyal supporters on the earldom lands. The lands of Muchall and Stoneywood are reformed into a barony and granted to Thomas Fraser, in exchange for his lands at Cornton. Thomas's ancestors had arrived from Normandy invited into Scotland some 250 years before and had seen their influence and wealth grow during this time.
Thomas builds himself a tower to secure his newly acquired lands.
1565 ~ Michael Fraser becomes laird and during his twenty-four years as head of the Fraser's adds a square tower on the north-west corner of the existing round tower. His master mason later goes on to work on Tolquhon Castle.
1589 ~ Upon the death of Michael Fraser, his son Andrew Fraser becomes the new head of the Fraser's and later adds two new upper storeys on top of the lofty main hall and extends the main block to the west, as well as building three additional storey's to the square tower and four to the round tower.
1633 ~ Andrew Fraser is created a peer and later takes possession of Cairnbulg Castle, which he also undertakes extensive building work.
1636 ~ Andrew Fraser dies, leaving his extensive lands and castles to his son, who becomes the 2nd Lord Fraser.
1638 ~ The 2nd Andrew Lord Fraser supports the Covenanter cause, and whilst he is absent from Castle Fraser, the Royalist Lord Aboyne sacks the barns and surrounding buildings at the castle. The castle itself is not captured. This attack is in retaliation for the Fraser's attack of Towie Barclay Castle and the sacking of the house of the Bishop of Aberdeen.
1645 ~ During Montrose's unstoppable Royalist campaign Lord Fraser takes refuge in Cairnbulg Castle whilst the Fraser estates and are being ravaged.
1656 ~ The 3rd Lord Andrew Fraser succeeds his father to the vast Fraser estates but proves to be weak man whose lofty ambitions far exceed his abilities, leading to the ruin of the Fraser's wealth. His son Charles is forced to convey the castles and lands to the Earl of Mar in return for settling his fathers vast debts. The Earl is related to Charles and so allows him to continue to live at the Castle
1715 ~ The Jabobite 4th Lord Fraser becomes a fugitive following the unsuccessful rebellion. Whilst on the run he accidently falls from a cliff and is killed. The castle and lands pass to the Frasers of Inverallochy
1745 ~ Charles Fraser, like his father is also a Jacobite sympathiser and so when the Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart lands in Scotland and raises his standard, he too rallies to the cause. His son Charles commands the Fraser Regiment at Culloden and is left wounded at the battlefield.
The day after the battle he is found by General Hawley who orders the young James Wolfe to kill him. Wolfe refuses and so Hawley has his order carried out by an ordinary soldier.
1758 ~ Charles Fraser's third son Simon, dies fighting for General Wolfe at Quebec, Canada.
The only remaining son William dies without any heirs, and so the Fraser estates are divided between his two sisters Martha Fraser, who is married to Colin MacKenzie, who inherit Inverallochy Castle, whilst Castle Fraser passes to Miss Elyza Fraser, who is already in her late fifties.
Elyza names her sister's eldest son as her heir, but after he offends her by sending her a bullfrog when she had asked him for a lapdog, she disinherits him in favour of his younger brother, Alexander MacKenzie, who later takes the name Fraser.
1814 ~ Following Elyza's death at the ripe old age of eighty, it is Alexander's son Charles who inherits the estates, as his father by this time had already died.
Charles was a veteran soldier who had fought under the Duke of Wellington in Spain and had been wounded twice at the Battle of Burgos, once when he was hit in the head as he was leading his men storming the castle of Burgos, and a second time shot through the knee. After six weeks of agony his leg is amputated. He returns to Scotland and plays an active role managing his estates, as Member of Parliament and as Colonel of the Ross-shire Militia.
1817 ~ Charles marries the seventeen-year-old Miss Jane Hay. They go on to have forteen children, tragically losing eleven of them.
1871 ~ Their son Colonel Frederick MacKenzie succeeds his mother and father, but unlike them he was a harsh unpopular man who had no children. His heir never lives at the castle and so is eventually sold at auction to the First Viscount Cowdry for his second son.
4 miles north of Dunecht
B road off B993
Castle Fraser is a spectacular example of a Scottish Baronial Tower House set in beautifully manicured grounds. It's history dates back to the 15th century and follows the trials and tribulations of the Frasers.
The castle is very well sign posted as you would expect for a castle of this type and so has plenty of parking woth ease of access for all.
There is certainly plenty to see exploring not only the beautiful castle inside and out, but also its extensive grounds with its numerous walks and gardens.