Ballater iCentre welcomes Jacobites storytellers

Ballater iCentre has thrown open its doors to a group of friendly Jacobite ghosts who shared tales of their past as well as the history of Braemar Castle, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories.

Group of Jacobite storytellers outside the VisitScotland iCentre in Ballater.
Group of Jacobite storytellers outside the VisitScotland iCentre in Ballater.

The group of costumed team members from Braemar Castle acted as roving storytellers, enchanting visitors both old and young outside the iCentre, with stories of the Jacobite rebellion and of times gone by at the castle, which has been operated by the local community since 2007.

Youngsters also had the opportunity to dress up in clothing from the Jacobite era and have their pictures taken.

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The castle’s original owners, the Earls of Mar, were among the earliest rulers of Scotland and their power continued down the centuries. In 1628 the 2nd Earl built Braemar Castle as a base for his hunting excursions to his lands in the Braes of Mar but also to remind the local population who was in charge.

In 1689 this authority was challenged by the newly-formed rebel group, the Jacobites and the Castle was set alight in the first Jacobite Uprising. By the second Jacobite Uprising in 1715, the Earl of Mar had changed sides and it was the 6th Earl who raised the standard to start the rebellion in Braemar. However, the rebellion lasted no more than a few months, ending in defeat for the Jacobites and disaster for the Earl. He lost everything and fled overseas. Braemar Castle was seized by the Crown and local landowners - the Farquharsons of Invercauld - grasped their chance and bought the Castle.

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The final Jacobite uprising led to another change of fortune for the Castle. Following the final Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Government troops were stationed in the Castle to make sure there would be no more rebellion. When the troops finally left in 1830, the Farquharsons set about converting the Castle into the delightful family home on show today.

An important part of the iCentre’s role is helping visitors to enjoy the area responsibly, by linking visitors with local tourism businesses and sharing information on some of the hidden gems that can be enjoyed.

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Fiona McCulloch, Ballater Assistant iCentre Manager, said: “It was really great to have the ‘Jacobite Ghosts’ of Braemar Castle at the iCentre as part of Scotland's Year of Stories 2022. Sharing local Jacobite history and Braemar Castle with lots of appreciative visitors was very enjoyable and the visitors loved seeing their children dressed in authentic Jacobite costume.”

Braemar Castle is currently undergoing a £1.6m restoration programme.

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Doreen Wood, founder member of the Braemar Castle management team, said: “It was a beautiful day and people were very appreciative and interested to hear about our community castle. It was good to promote the castle as well as an opportunity to fundraise towards its restoration.”