Staring Out to Sea from Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle on the cliffs
A cliff-edge view

Dunnottar Castle sits high on the cliffs near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. It’s scenic and sprawling and, though peaceful now, it boasts a turbulent history.

drawing room at Dunnottar Castle
Great Hall

History of Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar was attacked by Vikings in the ninth century, and captured by William Wallace in 1297. Kings and queens loved to visit: Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, and at one point during my own visit, I was standing in the bedroom of Charles II.

Smithy at Dunnottar Castle
The Old Smithy


Though I didn’t meet them, there’s said to be a lassie in a green plaid searching for her lost Pictish children, a young deer hound, and a Scandinavian military gentleman who likes to stare out to sea.

I understand the need to stare across the ocean. The seascape at Dunnottar is mesmerising.

silvery ocean
Seeing across the sea…

The elevated position of the castle means you can see across miles and miles of silvery sea. The window below is located in the Whigs’ Vault that held imprisoned Covenanters in 1685. It’s a dark and terrible place. I had to reach out to the air and the sky and the light.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea
A dark window

Views, views, everywhere…

sea view at Dunnottar Castle
Sea and cliffs

But it’s time to go. It’s time to walk back up the many, many steps that seemed so inconsequential on the way down…

Dunnottar Castle

For more information on the wonderfully atmospheric Dunnottar Castle visit the official site.

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

“Ethereal and spellbinding…” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair, and a harp

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

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“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

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122 Replies to “Staring Out to Sea from Dunnottar Castle”

  1. What an amazing place. I and my wife (who has never visited the east of Scotland) had the intention this summer to visit some of the places you have described so enticingly but unfortunately one of my ‘health episodes’ intervened. Maybe next year.

  2. Love Dunnottar Castle! The Whig’s Vault where the imprisoned Covenanteers were left to rot was overwhelming. I imagined being imprisoned with them. It was something I will never forget. I was there in April, 2005 but didn’t see Charles’ II bedroom. So glad to see a great picture of it. Nice shot!

      1. It certainly is terrible. I did realize or perhaps I have forgotten that this happened during Charles II reign. Can you imagine living above what was taking place below. Whoa!

  3. Love this post Thanks for sharing. By the way. Have you read any of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books. She is an Historian and writes about all the periods in England and their Kings and Queens with a touch of Romance of course, but very well researched. I have read most of her books and can’t put them down. Looking forward to your next post.

  4. Thank you for this, had hoped to visit Dunnottar Castle when I was in Scotland but sadly couldn’t make it. On the list for next time.

          1. Yes, they are. Hammond Castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts was built to authentic castle specifications (albeit from different eras), while Castle-in-the-Clouds in Moultenborough, New Hampshire was more castle-inspired.

  5. Lovely post, Ailish. Being a largely Scottish girl, I avidly read anything to do with Scotland. My family is part of the Gordon clan in the Huntly area, though my direct ancestor’s estate was in the southwest corner, before he lost it somehow. Thanks for following my blog. I’ll follow yours and order your book. Good luck with it.

  6. Amazing photography and descriptions. You really have the ”eye” for photography. Loved the composition of both your photos and your words. I’d like to see these or other photos with higher image definition. It would be nice.

  7. I lived in Scotland for 3 years. Dunnattar was one of our favorite places to visit. Each stone tells a story. I left my heart in Scotland and trying to get back there for a nice visit

  8. So much history that rests there; amazing to realize that the attack you describe happened over 700 years ago… yet the ruins still stand and tell the tale.

    Oh, and the ocean is stunningly beautiful. I’d love to visit there someday.

  9. I LOVE this castle. Used to visit often when I was wee. The history is tremdnous. Dunottar IS a castle in the true sense of the word. Thank you for the lovely post.

      1. it is. I still have an old guide book and pics taken–black and white ones– sitting on the castle well wall, also of Dunottar itself on the approach. Truly is quite a place. It is probably my fav Scottish castle.

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