Castle Fraser

Our first castle hunting expedition as a family was spontaneous. This is incontrovertible evidence that we’re ready to explore Scotland with a baby on our hip without it being stressful. (First-time parent predicaments.)

I live in the middle of a city. I had forgotten how quiet the world is. When we stepped out of the car, the silence greeted me as an old friend and said, “Remember?” Remember that green things rest in silence and bloom as slowly as the day is long. Remember that when a bird sings, it’s not to disrupt the silence but to enter into its breathings.

The mountains that bordered the sky sat calmly, dignified in their blue sweaters, and the air watched everything with an introverted twinkle in its eye. The fact that a castle waited behind the hill, turreted and real as the wet dirt, felt fitting, despite the other fact that in my mind this kind of castle only exists in fairy tales.

Silence makes anything seem possible.


Even though Castle Fraser withstood a siege from an army that the city of Aberdeen fell to, in the calm sunlight it felt more like a castle in which Prince Humperdink might try to wed Princess Buttercup. It had rich carpets, victorian beds, spy holes onto the great hall, and a myriad of windowed enclaves that would be perfect reading nooks. Tyler enjoyed the library with its collection of aging books. I liked the excitement of all the staircases that spiraled up towers with such tight energy they had to be leading to wonder. Ambrose liked the chandelier in the great hall.

I wore the baby and he behaved like a champ. The silence outside must have inspired him, for he was silent and staring the whole time. Except in the library. He does have a penchant for shouting happily in libraries.

Photo_Castle2 Photo_Castle3 Photo_Castle4 Photo_Castle5

Castle Fraser: A z-plan castle. Construction began in 1575 and was finished in 1636. Evidence suggests that there was a 15th century tower that it was built around. A lot of reworking was done in the Victorian Era so the interior smacks of posh 1800s aristocracy.

When inside you almost think yourself in a small cottage on account of the thick walls and the small rooms. It is only the string of room after room that proves you are in a castle. (Cameras not allowed inside.) I want to pitch a tent on the platform of the tower and spend nights up there watching the stars sink behind the mountains. The view up there quieted both me and Tyler.

We stayed late and were the last to leave the property.Photo_Castle7Photo_Castle6Photo_Castle8


10 thoughts on “Castle Fraser

  1. WELL DONE!! O my! “Remember that when a bird sings, it’s not to disrupt the silence but to enter into its breathings.” I totally GET IT. I GET it. The remembering is so understandable. I would have loved the spiraling staircases, too… any stairs intrigued me as a child, since we lived in a one-story house, but winding stone steps in a castle, imagine! I’m delighted, thank you.

  2. I love exploring castles and envisioning what it would be like to be present in that time period! We toured Warwick Castle in England and took wonderful pictures to help our memories remember that special day! I love what you wrote!

  3. We loved the pictures and Ambrose and Tyler was really good . Is it hard on your back to carry Ambrose that way ? Now let me add a castle to your list : Before you leave you must visit Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull which is on the west side of Scotland. It is the McLean castle and when you enter they want you to sign in on the McLean register so let them know your maiden name . Glad that you got to tour a little and get a taste of Scotland.

    • I definitely want to make it to Duart Castle! It’ll have to be at least a day trip, if not a weekend, since it’s on the other side of Scotland, so it might be a while before we make it over there. Also, it’s not difficult on my back to carry Ambrose in the wrap like that. At least, not if it wrap it the right way… if I do it wrong, then it strains it some. 🙂

  4. You ARE a poet! Oh, Jessie, I so badly want to come visit and see inside this castle and walk on the quiet grounds. It looks breathtakingly enchanting. Castles have always been so alluring to me, and your description and your pictures brought it to life. I walked with you in my imagination, which is how I’ve always explored castles. I would love to see this in reality!

  5. It was raining when we went to Fraser, remember? I kept my head down, and besides, the sky seemed so low as to cover everything up. I’m so glad, therefore, to have these photos. I’m seeing what we missed, sorta. It’s so GRAND. My thistle mug comes from Fraser, yay!

  6. The picture of you with those gardens is my all time favorite of you. Hands down. And THIS
    “A no nonsense kind of a castle.” Made me very, very happy 🙂
    Miss you, keep writing! This is all so brilliant!!!!

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