Hi-story in the making
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 nearby Braemar Castle with visitors, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022
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 who visited the iCentre also had the opportunity to dress up in clothing from the Jacobite era and have their pictures taken.
The Year of Stories 2022 celebrates stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Stories are a vital part of Scotland’s culture and every community has a different tale to tell. Shared stories, whether spoken, written, sung or filmed are what give us a sense of place, history and belonging. This year, community groups, museums, heritage sites and other visitor attractions are getting involved with the themed year, with storytelling always at the heart of it.
According to the castle’s website, its 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.
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.
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. They really brought history to life!
“It was really worthwhile being able to help a local business reach out to a wider audience in this way.”
Braemar Castle is currently undergoing a £1.6M restoration programme with cash from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the fundraising efforts of the small community of 500 people. It is aiming for a reopening date of July 2023 with a vision to create a prominent visitor attraction and deliver in Braemar and cross the region, a bold, creative and far-reaching programme of community engagement and learning.
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.
“Dressing children up as Jacobites was a big hit! We were grateful for the opportunity to participate in YOS2022.”
VisitScotland’s iCentre network can offer a platform for tourism businesses to connect directly with visitors. They can also host supplier events and offer a range of ticketing services, sales of local artisan products through its Shop Local retail intitative, as well as onward booking advice for visitors across Scotland.
For more information on VisitScotland iCentres, visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/practical-information/vic/
For more information on The Year of Stories, visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/themed-years/stories/