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29 May 2024

Pink again: Craigievar Castle reopens

An exterior view of the recently repainted pink walls of Craigievar Castle, looking up a grassy path beside the barmkin wall.
Craigievar Castle
On 31 May, Craigievar Castle welcomes visitors again, following a major conservation project by the Trust.

High on a remote hillside in rural Aberdeenshire, one of Scotland’s most remarkable castles is getting ready to welcome visitors again. The reopening of Craigievar Castle follows the successful completion of a complex 18-month conservation project by our charity.

Craigievar is one of the best-preserved examples of a tower house and is often nicknamed ‘Scotland’s Cinderella castle’ due to its iconic pink colour scheme. Inside are stunning 17th-century plaster ceilings and original collections. A small team of staff and volunteer guides have been carefully re-instating these precious collections in preparation for welcoming visitors and supporters again.

No artificial light is used in the castle, allowing visitors on our daily tours to share the experience of eight generations of the Forbes family and view the castle interiors and collections as the family did for 300 years. People from all around the world have enthused about these castle tours, which are available in person on a first-come, first-served basis and have limited ticket numbers each day.

Craigievar’s lofty position near the Cairngorms offers visitors stunning views across Aberdeenshire and Royal Deeside, but extreme weather has been taking its toll on the building fabric over the past decade. Through our meticulous Pink Again project, National Trust for Scotland conservation experts and specialist contractors have revived the ‘Craigievar Pink’ on the harling and provided the most protective conditions for the exquisite plasterwork and collections inside.

Having built a mammoth seven-storey scaffold and neon-pink protective shroud at the start of the project, the team then made discreet changes to the building’s detailing and slate roofs to better cast away rain and snow. Harling repairs were also carried out before contractors applied over 13,000 litres of the special recipe limewash – enough to fill a small swimming pool. After working at height in all weathers for 18 months, our contractors Harper & Allan, who specialise in traditional stonemasonry, removed the final pieces of scaffolding this spring.

This project at Craigievar was funded by members and supporters of the Trust, with donations coming from as far afield as the USA. Grant funding from Historic Environment Scotland, under its Organisational Support Fund and Partnership Fund Grant schemes, also allowed conservation of Craigievar’s barmkin wall, one of the few remaining examples in Scotland of this traditional protective boundary.

As the team eagerly awaited their first visitors for 18 months, James Henderson, the National Trust for Scotland’s Operations Manager for Craigievar, said, ‘Our charity can’t wait to continue telling the story of Craigievar and we’re extremely proud that the National Trust for Scotland’s supporters and the project team have ensured that there are many more chapters to come.’

“This fairytale castle is a global icon of Scottish heritage and a pink beacon for visitors.”
James Henderson
Operations Manager for Craigievar Castle

Iain Hawkins, the Trust’s Regional Director for the North East, explained why the Pink Again project has been an important achievement: ‘Craigievar Castle and the Pink Again project perfectly encapsulate the National Trust for Scotland’s ambitious and wide-ranging activity to protect, care for, share and speak up for Scotland’s precious heritage, in support of our vision of nature, beauty and heritage for everyone. We are grateful to all our members and supporters who make it possible to share Scotland’s remarkable heritage – at Craigievar and across the whole of the country.’

A little girl dressed in a Cinderella costume runs across the lawn in front of Craigievar Castle, with a man dressed in a suit of armour standing behind her.

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