Braemar Castle, Aberdeenshire – Clan Farquharson
Standing to the south of the River Dee, Braemar Castle is the ancestral home of the Scottish Farquharson Clan and was also the traditional host of the Queen during the famous ‘Braemar Gathering’ – until the emergence of Balmoral.
Built at the beginning of the 17th century by John Erskine, Earl of Mar, the Castle was originally constructed as a show of strength to ensure the local Farquharson clan did not gain too much power in the area. This would not transpire, however, as the family would immediately take the opposing side to the earl during the first conflict after its construction – the 1689 Jacobite Rising.
During this conflict, John Farquharson of Inverey would become a strong supporter of the Jacobite cause and would attack the castle as it held government troops. Upon the desertion of the castle by the troops, Farquharson would burn down the structure as he attempted to prevent it being used again as a garrison and although plans were made for its reconstruction in 1689 and 1715, this would not happen.
This would mark the beginning of a swing in power away from the Earls of Mar towards the Farquharsons, although the two sides would actually join forces during the rising of 1715 as John Erskine, 23rd Earl of Mar led the Jacobite side and raised his standard at the Farquharson’s home. This conflict would eventually lead to the Earl of Mar’s control over the estate being relinquished as he forfeited it to the crown. It would eventually fall under the rule of the Farquharsons in 1732 as they purchased the ruined castle from the Erskines – leasing the building to the Hanoverian Government for use as barracks.
The castle would finally be settled by the family in 1708 as the government cut their lease short and James Farquharson, the 10th Laird of Invercauld, began to use it as his family home. Now restored and fit for use, the castle would even play host to Queen Victoria on her regular visits to the Braemar Gathering before the emergence of Balmoral Castle as a royal residence in 1852.
In more recent times, the castle would turn into a visitor attraction as its well-restored historic rooms gave onlookers a chance to experience what life would have been like in the castle during its glory days. It received a further restoration in 2008 and is now a fantastic location to visit for anyone with an interest in Scottish history.