15th century

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AB51 7LD
NJ 722 125
nr Aberdeen
6.5m sw of Inverurie
4m n of Dunecht
off A944


opening times
car park £2


National Trust
Undiscovered Scotland
Castle Explorer


Fraser Castle

the most elaborate z-plan castle in Scotland

15th Century z-plan tower

Castle Fraser is a massive tower house built in the z-plan with opposing towers -- one large square tower, another large round tower. A courtyard is created by two wings, and it is closed in by additional buuildings on the far side , with a large gate. it is one of the most elaborate z-plan towers. Usually, castle owners who needed more space or more comfortable digs, simpy added a new wing or a new range of buildings to an existing castle. Here, though, the Frasers approache dtheir need for more space sensitively, and simpoy made the existing castle higher and larger, without the series of tacked-on additions.

The main block dates from between 1575 and 1636, a rather plain keep with four storeys and an attic. The tower is 11.7m x 9.7m. The corners have corbelled out bartizans. The upper story is set on a corbelled stone course, so it looks as if the top story is a bit larger than the lower tower.

The round tower rises an additional two stories and has a stone balustrade around the top, and a flat roof (which must be hell with rainwater...), The upper stories were added by Andrew Fraser, who was laird from 1589 to 1636-- he added two stories to the main block, three to the square tower and four on the round tower, almost doubling the height of the castle. The shorter wing containing a large kitchen and dining room over it were added in the 1620s.

the top of the round tower (and stair tower), with delicate rope molding

The round tower has six upper floors over vaulted cellars - the room iniside are square. The original parts of the tower have a staircase in the corner of the main block, an additional stair was added for the upper stories.

The original entrance lies int he re-entrant angle of the square tower and leads to a vaulted cellar and kitchen. There is a wide spiral staircase leading ot the hall on the first floor, and small corner turett stairs leading to the private rooms above. Initially, there was no communication between the original rectangular tower and the added square tower (Michael's Tower) - they barely touched, and only merged into the solid form they now have when the older part of the castle was extended.

a view of the castle from the courtyard and newer wings

The interior has been entirely redesigned and rebuilt (betwee 1820 and 1850, in the Regency style. 19th century additions around the courtyard were demolished after WWII and the original harling was stripped off (the main block is not now harled, but the tower is. Somtimes restoration work is removing the work done by earlier 'fixes'.

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