On Saturday August 26th, delegates had the opportunity to join an excursion that took in some of the riches of North-East Scotland, including its castles, its natural scenery, its archaeological heritage and last but not least, its whisky.
Waterproof clothing and suitable footwear for walking over some rough ground was brought along by delegates. The coach departed 08.30hrs from King's College (High Street) after all met under the arch at King's Quad, beside the Chapel. The coach returned around 18.30hrs to King's College.
One of the oldest operating distilleries in Scotland – and its most easterly – Glen Garioch (pronounced Geery in the ancient Doric dialect still spoken in these parts) has been making its mighty malt in the quaint and historic market town of Oldmeldrum, near Aberdeen in North East Scotland, ever since 1797. Shielded from the world’s prying eyes, deep in the fertile ‘Granary of Aberdeenshire’, and only ever produced in small, precious batches, Glen Garioch is a rare find indeed, but warmly appreciated by those who like a hearty Highland malt, non chill-filtered as nature intended, with a wholesome maltiness, honeyed sweetness and delicious creamy texture to savour.
Visited by Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace, the hiding place for the Crown Jewels and film set for Zeffirelli’s ‘Hamlet’, and the more recent 'Frankenstein' movie. Dunnottar Castle is somewhere you would not wish to miss! A truly dramatic ruined cliff top fortress in a stunning location - quite definitely an unforgettable experience. Just south of Aberdeen and dating from C14. Dunnottar occupies a stunning position surrounded on all sides by high cliffs making it easily defended and one of the strongest castles in the land beside a Pictish fort uncovered during a recent archaeological dig which is believed to be Scotland's oldest.
Wander round the extensive buildings – from the keep, through the barracks, lodgings, stables and storehouses to the less ruined chapel and dining room – and you will realise the importance of this once impregnable castle. Discover the darker side to the building when troops were garrisoned, holding out against Cromwell and the Whigs Vault where many were imprisoned in gruesome conditions. Dunnottar Castle Website.
Set amidst the ancient Royal Forest and Park of Drum, on the periphery of Royal Deeside, Drum Castle combines medieval history, Jacobean romance and Victorian opulence to striking effect, within easy reach of Aberdeen. Dating from the 13th century, the castle was owned by the Irvine family for over 650 years. A Scottish stronghold and hunting lodge with one of the finest libraries in any Scottish castle, with over 4,000 volumes in total at drum (some of which date back to the 1500s).
Archaeologists uncovered a series of chambers built into the walls of the original 700 year old tower at 21m high, with walls that are 3.5m thick at the bottom. However, they have so far been unable to investigate further.
There is also a muniment room holding documents dating back to 1323. Outside the Castle, the 411-acre estate includes historic gardens with a human sundial. The Old Wood of Drum, an ancient oak woodland, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Drum Castle Website.
Aberdeen is at the centre of Scotland's Castles and Whisky country - home to more castles per acre than anywhere else in the UK – close on 300 if you wish to count! Delegates to both the Rectors' Forum and the Conference booked to join the whole-day coach excursion, at an additional cost of £60 per person, by sending their details to email@example.com.