A dozen or so things you never knew about the Aberdeenshire

The seventh in our series of 'I never knew that about the beauty spots of Britain'

Britain is the most beautiful country in the world when the sun shines. And even when it doesn’t there are myriad tales and facts galore to enhance the beauty, whatever the weather. Here are some of them – they may make you want to go there….

A dozen or so things you never knew about…Aberdeenshire (maybe)

‘I feel a sort of reverence in going over these scenes in this most beautiful country…’ So wrote Queen Victoria in 1873 while travelling through Aberdeenshire to Balmoral. Aberdeenshire is the County of Castles, with more castles per acre than any other county in Britain, boasting more than 250 castles in all, including Queen Victoria’s very own Balmoral, ‘my dear paradise in the Highlands’, designed by her husband Prince Albert.

  • Magical Craigievar Castle in the foothills of the Grampians, inspired Walt Disney’s fairytale Disney castle. Slains Castle, on the cliffs above Cruden Bay, inspired Dracula’s castle. Braemar Castle was the starting point for the first Jacobean Uprising in 1715. Drum Castle, in possession of Scotland’s oldest tower house keep, is the oldest intact building in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Fraserburgh Castle was converted in 1787 into Scotalnd’s first lighthouse, and Huntly Castle, ancestral home of Scotland’s oldest Marquessate, has a magnificent carved heraldic frontispiece that is unique in the world.

Baronial Craigievar Castle in Pink

  • Aberdeenshire has other treasures too, forests and mountains, the greater part of Britain’s largest national park, the Cairngorms National Park, a spectacular coastline lined with Scotland’s largest fishing ports and Scotland’s easternmost point, Buchan Ness, and the River Dee, Scotland’s fastest flowing river, with the highest source of any river in Britain, 4000 feet up, and the best salmon fishing in the world – talking of salmon, it was John Moir of Aberdeen who produced the world’s first canned salmon, in 1825.


  • Aberdeen, the Granite City, sparkles like a jewel after rain as the granite buildings, flecked with mica, glisten in the sunshine. Granite is everywhere. Marischal College is the second largest granite building in the world after the Escorial in Madrid. Union Bridge, in the city centre, built in 1805, is the largest single-span granite bridge in the world, with a span of 130 feet. St Machar’s Cathedral, in lovely Old Aberdeen, is the only medieval cathedral in the world made of granite and possesses Scotland’s finest medieval woodwork. Aberdeen Granite from Rubislaw Quarry in the middle of Aberdeen can be found in the Forth Railway Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and the terrace of the Houses of Parliament in London, Southampton and Portsmouth Docks, Sebastopol Docks and a temple in Japan. The five acre quarry is no longer active and is filled with water but at 480 feet deep and 400 feet wide it was once the biggest man-made hole in Europe.

Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of Great Britain is attending annual Highland Games in Braemar Scotland 2nd of September 2006

  • Braemar, home of the famous Highland Games Gathering in September, attended by those of the Royal Family who are staying at nearby Balmoral, is the highest parish in England, with three mountains over 4000 feet contained within its borders. It is also the coldest place in Britain, on two occasions recording the lowest temperature ever experienced in Britain, -27.2 degrees Celcius in 1895 and 1982. In an effort to keep residents active and hence warm, Braemar hosts the highest 18-hole golf course in Britain.

See part one – Outer Hebrides 

See part two – Inner Hebrides 

See part three – The Peak District

See part four – The Cotswolds

See part five  – Pembrokeshire

See part six  – the Cumbrian Coast

Find out more about Christopher Winn’s ‘I Never Knew That’ here

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Christopher Winn has been a freelance writer and collector of trivia for over 20 years and is the author of the million-selling I Never Knew That books which cover Great Britain and Ireland and New York. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express, the Guardian and the Spectator and has also worked for television with, amongst others, Terry Wogan and Joanna Lumley. He is married to artist Mai Osawa, who illustrates all his books.

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