Last chance to visit the fairytale Craigievar Castle… for now

The National Trust for Scotland is encouraging visits to one of Scotland’s most Instagrammed castles before the skyward turrets and striking pink tones are covered up and collections ‘put to bed’ for a vital conservation project in September.

The castle will be closing in September until spring 2024 to allow for an essential major conservation project and future proofing against further damage from climate change.
The castle will be closing in September until spring 2024 to allow for an essential major conservation project and future proofing against further damage from climate change.

The conservation works will reinvigorate the pink tones of Craigievar’s walls with multiple coats of a ‘special recipe’ of limewash and also repair some of the high-level areas of harling. In addition, maintenance to interior plasterwork, conservation of the barmkin wall and repair projects will be carried out.

The target date for completing these critical repairs and re-opening the castle is spring 2024, with the National Trust for Scotland planning regular updates and insights into the project. Look out for special hard hat tours during the works, too.

William Forbes purchased Craigievar in 1610 and extensively remodelled it in the Renaissance style. In 1824, Sir John Forbes instructed architect John Smith to make a report on the building. Smith recommended a change from the existing off-white harling to a pale pink.

Harling is the traditional Scottish protective layer applied to buildings. It is made up from a mix of lime, aggregate and water, and is applied by hand.

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Craigievar Castle’s harling was completely replaced in 2009. However, the impact of changing weather patterns caused by climate change, means that maintenance is now needed to ensure the building can withstand the increasingly wet and warm weather.

Iain Hawkins, National Trust for Scotland’s Regional Director North East, highlights the beauty of Craigievar: “Spellbinding perfectly encapsulates Craigievar. The fairytale castle, trails and grounds let young imaginations run free, while the rich history and fantastic collections – with no artificial lighting above the first floor – are a brilliant insight into our heritage for everyone.”

Annie Robertson, Chartered Surveyor at NTS, explains the importance and challenges of the project: “The free-standing scaffold will take 3 months to erect but it will allow expert teams to maintain the harling and carry out discreet adaptions to details, to better protect the vulnerable edges of the harling. This will help to future-proof the building against the effects of climate change.”