If you’ve ever wondered what a Cairngorm crystal looks like in the flesh – so to speak – there’s a display of the raw and finished stones at Braemar Castle this season.
Roy Starkey, author of Crystal Mountains (reviewed here) has put together an exhibition of Cairngorm gemstones, which features a selection of jewellery, lots of information about the stones and their history, and three of the largest surviving crystals of Cairngorm quartz, not normally on display to the public.
Braemar Castle is well worth a visit in its own right, of course.
Built in 1628 as an L-shaped tower, it was primarily a hunting lodge for the Earls of Mar, replacing the earlier 11th century castle, the ruins of which can be seen in the village.
The castle was burnt down by the Jacobites in 1689 to prevent government forces using it. It was still in ruins at the 1715 rebellion, when the clans gathered in Braemar, but was taken over by John Farquharson in 1732. After the last Jacobite rising in 1745 he leased it to the British Army, who repaired the building and garrisoned it to quell any further thoughts of rebellion. The garrison remained some time after it was needed, and it wasn’t until 1831 that it returned to the Farquharson family.
These days it’s run as a tourist attraction by Braemar volunteers.