Balmoral makes castles list

Balmoral, named Scotlands second best-known castle in recent research conducted for tourism agency VisitScotland. It followed closely behind Edinburgh Castle.
Balmoral, named Scotlands second best-known castle in recent research conducted for tourism agency VisitScotland. It followed closely behind Edinburgh Castle.

One of the Queen’s favourite family retreats has been named as Scotland’s second best-known castle, according to research released by tourism agency VisitScotland.

Balmoral accounted for 53 per cent of the vote in a list of the top 10 best castles in the country, beaten only by Edinburgh Castle, which 80 per cent of British people were aware of.

With research revealing that almost half of people in the UK have never visited a Scottish castle, VisitScotland is encouraging visitors to bag one of the region’s hundreds of castles.

Aberdeenshire enjoys the reputation of being ‘Scotland’s Castle Country’ and with an impressive tally of 300 castles, stately mansions and ruins scattered across the landscape, there are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK. These include the sugar-plum pink Craigievar Castle - which many believe to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle logo - and Castle Fraser, one of the largest tower houses in the country, which has quirky features such as the ‘Laird’s Lug’ - a chamber hidden above the Great Hall so that the Laird could eavesdrop on visitors.

The research comes as the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology draws to a close. Respondents were shown promotional shots of castles and Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland was voted the most romantic-looking castle with 29 per cent of the votes, followed by Crathes Castle with 16 per cent and visitor favourite Eilean Donan Castle with 12 per cent.

On the opposite end of the scale two other Aberdeenshire castles, Slains Castle in Peterhead and Dunnottar Castle, were voted the most likely to be haunted with almost 22 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

The best castle in Scotland accolade went to Edinburgh Castle ahead of Stirling, Urquhart and St Andrews castles.

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland’s regional director, said: “I am delighted but not surprised that Balmoral has been voted the second best-known castle in Scotland. It is recognised around the world as the Scottish holiday home of the Queen and Royal family, attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually and is situated in a stunning location in Royal Deeside.

“It’s also encouraging that Crathes, Slains and Dunnottar castles were mentioned. We are very proud to boast that we are home to Scotland’s Castle Trail – it gives a tremendous boost to the region.”