Krats Castle


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Craits Castle was built in the 16th century by the Burnets from Leis and has been owned by this family for 400 years.

Kreits is built on the land that King Robert Bruce granted to the Barnets in 1323. In the period from the 14th to the 15th centuries, the Barnetts created an embankment in the middle of a swamp, and built a wooden fortress on this man-made island. The construction of the castle's current residential tower began in 1569, but was interrupted several times, due to political problems in the country that arose during the reign of Mary Stuart.

The tower was completed only in 1596 by Alexander Barnett. In the 18th century an additional wing was added to the castle. The Craits Castle remained the Barnett’s ancestral nest until 1951, when it was transferred to the Scottish National Trust by the 13th Baronet of Leys, Sir James Barnett. In 1966 there was a fire that destroyed part of the castle.

Visitors can have a picnic in the castle park, there are also play areas and attractions for children.

The operating mode of the castle Craits:

January, February and March - Sat and Sun only 10.30 to 3.45 (last record 3.00),
from April to October - daily from 10.30 to 4.45 (last record at 4.00),
November and December-Sat and Sun are only 10.30 to 3.45 (last record 3.00),

Photo and description

Krats Castle was built in the 16th century and is located in the area of ​​Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The castle has been owned by the Barnett of Lays clan for four hundred years, and is currently owned by the Scottish National Fund and is open to the public.

These lands were granted to the Barnett of Lays family by King Robert I in 1323. In the XIV-XV centuries, a fortress was built, located on an island in the middle of a swamp - a common phenomenon in the late Middle Ages. The construction of the modern version of Krats Castle began in 1553, but was postponed for a long time due to political problems that arose during the reign of Queen Mary Stuart. The construction of the castle was completed in 1596, and in the 18th century an additional wing was added.

Already at the beginning of the XVII century, the owner of the castle - Alexander Barnett - preferred to reconstruct the neighboring McHalls castle, but despite this, the family of Barnett-of-Leis lived in Krats Castle until 1951, when the castle was transferred to the National Trust of Scotland. In 1966, a fire broke out in the castle, especially affecting the wing of Queen Anne.

The castle houses a collection of portraits. Ceilings painted in the style of the Scottish Renaissance and rooms in the Jacobin style (XVI-XVII centuries) are also very interesting. They say that in one of these rooms - in the room of the Green Lady - there is a ghost. Visitors claim to have seen puffs of green smoke or fog in this room. Above the fireplace in the main hall hangs the Leys horn, made of ivory and decorated with precious stones. It was presented to the Barnett family by King Robert I in the same year as the lands themselves.

The territory of the castle is 2.1 square kilometers, of which 16 thousand square meters are reserved for the garden. Eight parts of the garden are divided among themselves by a curly-cut hedge made of Irish yews back in 1702. There is a croquet area on the terrace.

In 2004, various craters were discovered near the castle during excavations dating back to about 8000 BC. Only in 2013 it was possible to establish that this find is the oldest lunar calendar.


Crathes sits on land given as a gift to the Burnett of Leys family by King Robert the Bruce in 1323.

In the 14th and 15th century the Burnett of Leys built a fortress of timbers on an island they made in the m> but delayed several times during its construction due to political problems during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.

It was completed in 1596 by Alexander Burnett of Leys, and an additional wing added in the 18th century. Alexander Burnett, who completed the construction of Crathes, began a new project, the early 17th-century reconstruction of nearby Muchalls Castle. That endeavor was completed by his son, Sir Thomas Burnett. Crathes Castle served as the ancestral seat of the Burnetts of Leys until given to the National Trust for Scotland by the 13th Baronet of Leys, Sir James Burnett in 1951. A fire damaged portions of the castle (in particular the Queen anne wing) in 1966. Another historically important structure in this region linked to the Burnett of Leys family is Monboddo House.

Garden and grounds

The castle estate contains 530 acres (2.1 km 2) of woodlands and fields, including nearly 4 acres (1.6 ha) of walled garden. Within the walled garden are gravel paths with surrounding specimen plants mostly in herbaceous borders. Many of the plants are labelled with taxonomic descriptions. There is also a grass croquet court at a higher terraced level within the walled garden. Ancient topiary hedges of Irish yew dating from 1702 separate the gardens into eight themed areas. Crathes and its grounds are open to tourists throughout the year. A visitors center provides information about the castle and its surroundings. There is a tea shop on site and a car park for any size of car.

Mesolithic calendar

During 2004 excavations uncovered a series of pits believed to date from about 10,000 years ago. The find was only analysed in 2013 and is believed to be the world's oldest known lunar calendar. It is believed that it was used from 8000 BC to about 4000 BC. It is believed to pre-date by up to five thousand years previously known time-measuring monuments in Mesopotamia.

The site in Warren Field was discovered from the air when unusual crop marks were seen by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

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Great Britain, Scotland, Bankory

Krathes Castle is considered one of the most excellent castles in Scotland. With its original architectural form and pinkish-beige coloring of the external walls, it resembles other castles typical of Aberdeenshire, but in Krathes the appearance of the castle is perfectly combined with the preserved ancient interiors of its interior and beautiful gardens.

The story of Krates Castle is the story of the Burnett family, who lived here from its construction in the second half of the 1500s until 1951, when Major General James Burnett, 13th Baron Leys, transferred the castle and the estate of the National Trust for Scotland. The support of the fund helps to attract visitors from all over the globe, as well as the fact that Krates is the only castle in these places that is open throughout the year.

The history of the Barnett family can be traced back to 1066, from the time the Normans came to England. In 1323, the King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, appointed Alexander de Burnard as the royal forester and allocated him an estate under the town of Banchory. Barnard's emblem was a carved and ornate ivory horn, which now hangs in the High Hall of Krathes Castle. Over the next 250 years, the descendants of Barnard - Barnetta - managed their vast estates, including an artificial lake with an island in Loch of Leys, north of Bankory. This lake is currently drained.

In 1543, Alexander Burnett married Janet Hamilton, the daughter of wealthy cardinal and abbot David Beaton. The cardinal was killed in 1546 by Protestants, but shortly before that he managed to transfer all his considerable property and assets to his close ones, including his mistress, illegitimate children and, of course, his beloved daughter, Janet Hamilton. In 1553, Alexander and Janet Barnett decided to use their newly acquired wealth to build a more impressive and durable family home than they had before in Leys. So the idea of ​​building the castle of Krates was born, which found its embodiment only in 1596. Initially, the courtyard adjoined the castle, where several low buildings were built, surrounded by a stone wall around the perimeter. All these structures and walls have not been preserved to this day.

The Barnetts were never among the most famous and influential Scottish families, but over the centuries, family members often became generals, admirals, bishops, and judges, and one of the members of the clan was even elected Governor of New York State. Perhaps more importantly, the Barnetts had the happy ability to stay away from the many heated conflicts and confrontations that often happened in Scotland. As a result, they were never the loser, and therefore all 500 years of history have kept their estate and castle intact.

The only difficult time in the history of Krathes was in 1644, when the army of royalists (monarchists, adherents of royal authority) was seized by the town of Bankory, led by James Graham, 1st Marquis Montrose. The Marquis invited Thomas Barnett to surrender the castle peacefully, which he did, after which the deal was fixed by a joint dinner in the high hall of the castle. The next day, the Marquis’s army moved on, leaving the “captured” castle to its former owner.

During other periods of the Civil War, Sir Thomas took various precautions, including having letters from both warring parties that Krates and Barnetta would not be involved in hostilities. These documents can be seen today in one of the halls of Krates Castle.

In the 1680s, the Third Baron of Leys, also named Thomas Barnett, married Margaret Arbuthnott and over the next 23 years they had ... 21 children. To accommodate all their children in the castle, the couple was forced to attach a three-story wing in its eastern part. In 1966, this extension burned down and was replaced by a two-story wing.

The main part of the Krates castle is L-shaped and contains six floors. The upper level is decorated with magnificent turrets, cornices and unusual staircases, as well as watches added to the Victorian era. The initial entrance to the castle lay in the inner corner of the “L”, which made it more secure. In this place, and now is a closed metal door with a mesh designed to protect the doorway.

Today's visitor enters the castle through a door in the east wing of the building. Then the path goes through an old vaulted basement, and then leads up a spiral staircase higher, level by level, through living rooms and offices to the Long Gallery. From here, from the upper tier, there is a wonderful view of the castle gardens, which visitors can photograph from a small window. In the castle of Krates, photography is prohibited.

What is perhaps the most impressive in Krathes is the feeling that everything you see has been seen by Burnett in various periods of history, over the centuries. The furniture is magnificent, sometimes almost monumental: like, for example, a four-poster bed in the master bedroom. In many places, original tapestries and wooden panels from past eras cover ancient walls. Probably the most distinctive feature of Krates Castle can be called “painted” ceilings - in several rooms they are completely painted in various bright colors with written proverbs and sayings. Most of the ceilings were designed similarly in the 1800s, but they remain extremely exciting today. Some rooms also have traces of patterned decors that once covered all the walls.

A tour of the castle can certainly make a big impression, but the castle also owns vast territories of 238 hectares, covering the valley of the Di River. The estates include forests, swamps, ponds and streams, although, in the vicinity of the castle itself, the collection of mature trees from around the world planted here around 1860 by Sir James Horne Burnett dominates. During the summer, you can take a guided walk around the area.

A short distance to the west and northwest of the castle is a complex of buildings offering various services for visitors, including SkyWall is a sheer wall for rock climbing enthusiasts, a cafe, restaurant, and gift shop. An unusual SkyTrek high-altitude route is under construction, which will run in the crowns of trees.

The gardens of Krates Castle, founded in 1702, are almost as famous as the castle itself. They spread south-east of the castle on an oblong, walled plot of 3.75 hectares.

Gertrude Jekyll, visiting Krates in 1895, wrote: "The brightness of the colors of these gardens is something unforgettable." Most modern visitors, especially those accustomed to southern gardens, react in exactly the same way. Located at 57 ° north latitude, Krates is located much north of Moscow, but long bright summer days allow perennial plants to grow in curbs with extraordinary strength.

Today, like the old days, gardens are divided into eight square gardens, four of them - on the south side - are at a lower level, the rest are at a higher level. The gardens are famous for the huge variety of plants represented here.

In 1926, James and Sybil Barnett reconstructed the gardens. Lady Sybil was a fan of gardening and admired the work of Gertrude Jekyll, therefore, she decided to plant a large number of flower beds in the garden, and also created a small pond framed by hedges of yew and flower beds in orange-red colors. Bright colors are slightly softened by separate, calmer shades of purple foliage of barberry, scumpia and fennel. Strictly planned colorful patterns and often repeated planting (for example, roses "Belle de Crécy" and "Madame Isaac Perrier") create an atmosphere of harmony. Among the curbs at the bottom of the walled garden rises, like a lighthouse tower, an old Luzitanskaya trimmed laurel. The white borders created by Lady Barnett date back to 1936, which means that they were broken earlier than the more famous borders by Vita Sackville-West in Sissinghurst. Lady Barnett’s borders are filled with hydrangea, chubushnik and spirea, and the space under them is planted with a volzhanka with white flowers, bells, geraniums, lychnis, musk mallow and lunatic. However, as Gertrude Jekyll advised, the whiteness from time to time “pierces” a different color - the purple foliage of a quinoa and the dark red leaves of astrantia. After the estate was transferred to the National Fund, other thematic colorful borders appeared - purple and red, golden with yellow and blue, purple and silver. All borders are well-groomed, they are followed by a special team of gardeners.

Gardens and the castle complement each other, the upper part of the garden is especially striking, where the old yew emphasizes the structure of the castle and greatly contributes to its individuality.

Text: Julia Polyakova, Mikhail Scheglov,
A photo: Mikhail Scheglov,


Banchory, Aberdeen & Grampian, AB31 5QJ, Scotland, United Kingdom. 20 km west of Aberdeen on the A93 highway.

Tel: 0844 493 2166, Fax: 0844 493 2169
Email: [email protected]
The castle is open: November-March - on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10.30 to 15.45, April-October - daily, from 10.30 to 16.45.
The garden is open: daily, from early April to late October - from 10.30 to 16.45. Paid entrance.

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