Dunnottar Castle - Encyclopedia

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DUNNOTTAR CASTLE, a ruined stronghold, on the east coast of Kincardineshire, Scotland, about 2 m. S. of Stonehaven. It stands on a rock 160 ft. high, with a summit area of 4 acres, and surrounded on three sides by the sea. It is accessible from the land by a winding path leading across a deep chasm, to the outer gate in a wall of enormous thickness. It is supposed that a fortress stood here since perhaps the 7th century, but the existing castle dates from 1392, when it was begun by Sir William Keith (d. 1407), great marischal of Scotland. The keep and chapel are believed to be the oldest structures, most of the other buildings being two centuries later. It was the residence of the earls marischal and was regarded as impregnable. Here the seventh earl entertained Charles II. before the battle of Worcester. When Cromwell became Protector, the Scottish regalia were lodged in the castle for greater security, and, in 1651, when the Commonwealth soldiers laid successful siege to it, they were saved by a woman's wit. Mrs Granger, wife of the minister of Kinneff, a parish about 6 m. to the S., was allowed to visit the wife of the governor, Ogilvy of Barras, and when she rode out she was spinning lint on a distaff. The crown was concealed in her lap, and the distaff consisted of the sword and sceptre. The regalia were hidden beneath the flagstones in the parish church, whence they were recovered at the Restoration. In 1685 the castle was converted into a Covenanters' prison, no fewer than 167 being confined in a dungeon, called therefrom the Whigs' Vault. On the attainder of George, tenth and last marischal, for his share in the earl of Mar's rising in 1715 the castle was dismantled (1720).

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