Drum Castle: Historic Scotland

Cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. Explore 700 years of history in one of Scotland’s oldest tower houses.

The place-name Drum is derived from Gaelicdruim, ‘ridge’.

As is obvious from the pictures on this page, Drum Castle does not benefit from a spectacular island or crag-top location. And neither did it ever play a truly pivotal role in the turbulent history of Scotland. But… if you are simply looking for somewhere that shows clearly the way that Scottish castles have evolved over the past thousand years you could do far worse than visit Drum. And if you are looking for a castle you could imagine yourself enjoying living in (however briefly, before you remember the running costs), then Drum would be very hard to better.

One of the joys of a visit to Drum Castle is the sense of surprise and discovery you gain from exploring a building with so many twists and turns. It nonetheless helps if you start out with some idea of how the very different parts of the castle came about, and how they link together, sometimes in very unexpected ways.

Drum Castle started life as the imposing tower house that today continues to dominate the east side of the castle. 70ft high and with walls that are 12ft thick at ground level, this was designed to be impregnable in an age before artillery. The walls taper as the tower climbs skywards, and it is thought that it was built in two phases, the lower part shortly after 1200, and the upper part in the years around 1300.

Drum Castle has something for everyone, from the medieval High Hall to modern art exhibitions. Take a stroll through the grounds to see the centuries-old oak trees and magnificent wildlife, and breathe in the perfumes of the Garden of Historic Roses.

The sweep of 700 years of history is stamped into Drum’s battlements, medieval square tower and sprawling extensions.

The Royal Forest and Tower of Drum were given to the Irvine family by Robert the Bruce in 1323. Later a Jacobean mansion house was added, and in the Victorian era the lower hall was converted to a library, now containing a mighty 4,000 books.

The beautiful Garden of Historic Roses is divided into quadrants that show how roses have been cultivated from the 17th to the 20th century.

The ancient oak forest adjoins the castle, providing a sense of continuity through the centuries and a home for red kites, roe deer, red squirrels and badgers.  

Drum Castle is deeply rooted in Scottish history. The castle was granted to William de Irwyn by King Robert the Bruce. The castle remained within the Irvine family until 1975, when it was handed over to the National Trust of Scotland. Irvine memorabilia is shown in the Family Room and the house contains an excellent collection of portraits and good Georgian furniture.

The High Hall of the castle tower is still in its medieval state which is accessed by a narrow newel stair offering fine views from the battlements. The original house was enlarged with the creation of a very fine Jacobean mansion house in 1619 and a later addition during the reign of Queen Victoria.

The grounds contain the Old Wood of Drum ancient oak woodland with Site of Special Scientific Interest designation mixed woodlands, three way-marked walks and an arboretum. The beautiful Garden of Historic Roses is divided into quadrants that show how roses have been cultivated from the 17th to the 20th century.

The castle is surrounded by late 18th-century gardens, including a rose garden and arboretum containing trees from all regions of the 18th century British Empire.

In the 19th century, it was the home of Alexander Forbes Irvine of Drum FRSE (1818-1892). He was responsible for restoring the chapel. It was once served by Drum railway station on the Deeside Railway.

Ancient History

Prehistoric habitation of the local area is known through archaeological sites such as BalbridieRoman legions marched from Raedykes to nearby Normandykes as they sought higher ground evading the bogs of Red Moss and other low-lying mosses associated with the Burn of Muchalls. That march used the Elsick Mounth, one of the ancient trackways crossing the Grampian Mountains; the situation of the Elsick Mounth terminating at a ford to the River Dee is thought to have been instrumental in the strategic siting of Drum Castle as a point to monitor traffic on the Elsick Mounth lying west of Netherley.

Getting there

Drum Castle is 3 miles west of Peterculter, 10 miles west of Aberdeen and 8 miles east of Banchory.AddressDrum CastleDrumoakby BanchoryAberdeenshireAB31 5EY

Drum Castle is situated ½ mile off the A93 (the Aberdeen to Banchory road).

Travelling west from Aberdeen, pass through Peterculter. After 3 miles, turn right towards Drum Castle. 

Heading east from Banchory, travel 8 miles and then turn left towards Drum Castle.

Buses run every 30 minutes during the day along the A93. The bus stops are ½ mile from the castle (approximately a 20-minute walk).

Contact information

Telephone: 01330 700334

Email address: drumcastle@nts.org.uk

Drum Castle is located in Aberdeen

Read more: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/drum-castle/

https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/drum-castle-garden-estate-p254211 

“Alexander F-I 20th Laird of Drum”geni_family_tree.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S0370164600052184

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drum_Castle

https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/peterculter/drumcastle/index.html

“Elsick Mounth”The Megalithic Portal.

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