These days, the offering of an engraved gold watch might seem perfectly adequate, even extravagant in recognition of many years of loyal service to an employer.
But in the 1300s, such a noted honour could result in a much more ostentatious reward, perhaps even a castle with its own ancient woodland – particularly if the employer was King Robert the Bruce.
Drum Castle takes its place in history in exactly that way. Gifted to William de Irwyn by Robert the Bruce in 1323 for loyal service as armour bearer and aide, Drum Castle would remain home to 24 generations of the Irvine family over the next 650 years. Like other family homes, it has expanded over that time and today is a beloved attraction, in part for the insight that its distinct sections give us into the architectural evolution of Scottish castles.
At its core, Drum Castle is a 13th century tower house, with walls three metres thick and a battlement on top that provides a magnifi cent lookout. The later additions are a Jacobean mansion house and a Victorian extension, which blend together seamlessly despite their unique trademark architectural features. Though the interior is grand to say the least, there is still the feeling that this was very much a family residence. Despite its proximity to Aberdeen, Drum Castle is a complete departure from city life and off ers much for the countryphile. There are marked walks through the Old Wood of Drum, a walled garden to explore and the impressive Garden of Historic Roses, which showcases rose gardens as they would have been in each of the last four centuries.
Since 1975, the National Trust of Scotland has proudly maintained Drum Castle and its 400 acres. It is open to the public at various times throughout the year and is available to hire as an unforgettable venue for weddings and private events.