Drum Castle – One of the Oldest Towers in Scotland
Twenty-four generations of the Irvine family have lived uninterrupted in Drum Castle for more than six and a half centuries. It was perhaps the oldest occupied castle in Scotland till the last Laird of Drum, Henry Quentin Forbes Irvine, bequeathed the house and 300 acres of ground to the National Trust for Scotland on his death in November of 1975.
Eight miles west of Aberdeen, Drum Castle stands at the gates to Royal Deeside on a ridge overlooking the River Dee. As you walk around the remarkably well preserved castle you can recognize three distinct styles of construction. The original medieval tower, one of the three oldest towers in Scotland and only one to remain largely intact was built in the thirteenth century, the rambling stone Jacobean mansion that surrounds the tower was added in 1619 and the Victorian extension, added in 1872. Inside one can view portraits, furniture, vaulted ceilings decorated with shields in the great hall.
William Irvine was awarded the Royal Forest of Oaks in Aberdeenshire and Drum Castle which guards it in 1323 for his service to King Robert. This land had previously belonged to John Comyn and Drum was made into a free barony in 1329. The Irvine family remained intensely loyal to the Stuart royalty. Drum Castle was plundered to its stones three times during the Covenanting Rebellion against Charles I.
Drum Castle stands on extensive grounds and over the centuries many changes were made to the gardens as well. A giant Wellingtonia towering above the other conifers is evidence of the arboretum created on the South and East Lawns by the Irvine in the early 1900s. In the 1930s a 5-hole golf course was developed around the castle. The exquisite Pond Garden was built by the Trust around a former cattle watering-pool and paths that wind around it to the walled garden.
The Trust opened the Garden of Historic Roses in 1991 to mark its Diamond Jubilee. Divided into four quadrants, each has a design from one of the last four centuries and roses from that period. Drum Castle is open for tours and available for weddings and corporate hire.