If you were asked to describe the quintessential Highland village, you would likely mention imposing mountains, rolling green hills, meandering rivers, majestic forests and a population that is fiercely proud of its Scottish heritage. Essentially, you would describe Braemar.
Nestled in the Dee Valley, Braemar has a history as old as Scotland itself. As far back as the 8th Century when the King of the Picts built the first stronghold in the area, Braemar has been a seat of nobility as much for its strategic geographic location as for its singular beauty. Castles have been erected and knocked down, earldoms have been granted and taken away, religious and family rivalries have brought turmoil and destruction, but through it all Braemar has survived with its character intact.
Fortunately, the colourful history of this intriguing village is on display at the Braemar Highland Heritage Centre. Located in the centre of town, the Heritage Centre presents all that is great about Braemar as it is today and as it was in the past.
The exhibits and audio-visual presentations serve to educate visitors on everything from geography and ecology to local lore.
Of course, no recounting of Braemar and its past would be complete without touching on the one event that it is most famous for – the Braemar Gathering. These Highland Games, which are held on the first Saturday in September each year, date back over 900 years and have long been a favourite of the monarchy, with members of the Royal Family attending regularly from their nearby summer Estate at Balmoral.
Whatever time of year you plan to visit Braemar, make the Highland Heritage Centre your first port of call to get the most out of your time there. And don’t miss their specialist clan and tartan shop if you wish to take a piece of Scottish Heritage home with you.