The ruin of a 1,000-year-old castle in the centre of Braemar was officially opened last Friday, after undergoing substantial conservation works.
The walls of Kindrochit Castle have been repointed and repaired, and access routes and information panels have been installed for visitors.
Officiating the ceremony, Provost Hamish Vernal said: “It is worth mentioning a few key moments in the life of this wonderful castle, because it has truly seen the sweep of history.
“Over the centuries it has been a hunting palace, right through to the 1600s, when it is said that the occupants were struck down by the plague, and the residents of Ballater very kindly took a cannon to them, and what’s been left has been here for about 400 years.”
Provost Vernal spoke of the project beginning a few years ago, with it being brought to wider attention that the ruins were in a poor state of repair by Councillor Geva Blackett.
“Councillor Blackett agitated as only Councillor Blackett can,” explained Provost Vernal, “and there has been a succession of people getting involved ever since.”
The works were made possible through the joint-funding of £216,000 from Aberdeenshire Council and the Cairngorms National Park Committee, and a small group of local people have formed the Friends of Kindrochit Castle to monitor the site and carry out promotional activity.
Speaking about the completed project, Cllr Blackett said: “When I first became a councillor my husband said to me: ‘Find out what the council are planning to do with Kindrochit Castle,’ which was a complete and utter mess.
“I went to the Director of Infrastructure Services, and we both agreed that something had to be done, and what’s happened here since is absolutely amazing - literally a tip has been turned into a first-class visitor attraction.”
The castle was built in the late 11th century by King Malcolm III, King of Scotland, and was originally named ‘Ceann-drochit’, meaning Bridge Head.
The project won a Highly Commended award at the 2014 Aberdeenshire Council Design Awards.