Dunnottar Castle could be called a hidden gem amongst the plethora of Scottish castles . It is not very well-known but it has a fascinating history including visits from William Wallace and Mary, Queen of Scots.The castle must have the most spectacular location in Scotland , sitting on a rocky promontory on the east coast of Scotland just outside Stonehaven , about 15 miles from Aberdeen . The word impregnable was probably invented for this castle. It is surrounded on all sides by a sheer cliff . Entry is by a tunnel through the cliff . Once you actually reach the top the views are stunning. In the 12th Century Dunnottar Castle became a Catholic settlement with the first stone chapel being consecrated in 1276. According to “Blind Harry”, a 15th Century poet, whose epic poem was an inspiration for the 1996 film “Braveheart”, William Wallace set fire to this chapel with a garrison of English soldiers taking refuge inside. The current chapel was built in the 16th Century.Dunnottar Castle was home to one of the most powerful families in Scotland, the Earls Marischal, from the 14th century when Sir William Keith, the 1st Earl Marischal, built his Tower House, also known as the Keep. The Earl Marischal was an office bestowed on the Keiths by James II. The role was one of the three great offices of State, along with the Constable and the Steward. The Earl Marischal had specific responsibility for ceremonial events, the Honours of Scotland and for the safety of the King’s person within parliament. Consequently it was not unusual for the monarchy, including Mary Queen of Scots, to spend time and stay at Dunnottar.Nowadays you can get married in Dunnottar castle , although you do so at your own risk since there is no shelter in the castle buildings .
The controversial Braveheart statue at the Wallace Monument in Stirling has been returned to sculptor Tom Church. The William Wallace statue has divided opinion equally between those who love it and those who hate it . Historians were outraged because of its remarkable resemblance to a certain actor Mel Gibson , star of the Braveheart film. That was taking historical inaccuracies to a whole new level. However tourists visiting the Monument loved having their picture taken beside it . The 13 foot statue was 12 tonnes and carved out of gold sandstone . A new visitor centre is being built where it stood in the car park at the foot of the Monument.Church said he had been inspired to create the statue, which took him five months to carve, after watching the 1997 film. Church said: “I know the purists didn’t think too much of it but the tourists absolutely loved it. I believe it’s rightful home is at the Wallace Monument. It was the ideal place for it. I think they were maybe a bit angry that some people just wanted their picture taken with the statue and didn’t bother going into the monument.”
So what has the Braveheart phenomenon done for Scotland ? I think it has had a great effect on tourism in Scotland. The film has encouraged lots of new visitors to come over here. Beyond that it has also played well with the SNP and supporters of Independence because it is just an epic , albeit inaccurate , film which appeals to the emotions of anyone who wants freedom for their own country . The picture of the statue featured here is available as a poster from Castle Pictures.