This multifaceted landmark is based in the coastal town of Fraserburgh, with a unique 450 year story of continual reinvention and survival from castle, to the lighthouse, to museum. Kinnaird Head Castle, was built by the Frasers in the 16th Century – the town name of Fraserburgh then followed. Later on in 1787, the castle was sold to the Northern Lighthouse Board to be converted into Scotland’s first mainland lighthouse. The best was for this to be constructed was for the lighthouse to take over one of the corners, and today you can visually see the fusion between the two inside and out.
Adjacent to Kinnaird Head castle sits the Wine Tower facing towards you, with a backdrop of crashing waves against the rocks. This interesting structure is named ‘The Wine Tower’ but to this day it cannot be confirmed what the use of this building was for. Originally findings suggested that it was a secret catholic chapel, but there are various reasons that go against this outcome. It is more feasible that this was a separate building to the castle where the laird would entertain his important guests, and perhaps as the name suggests – drink wine.
The Wine Tower does however come with a dark ‘Romeo & Juliet’ tale of its own. In the late 1500s, Sir Alexander Fraser, the 8th Laird of Philorth had forbidden his daughter Isobel from seeing a piper from the village who she had fallen in love with. One night he was due to be in Aberdeen but the storms were so bad he had to turn back and head home. When he returned he found his daughter and the piper together, the laird was so enraged of his daughters betrayal that he imprisoned her in the upstairs room of the wine tower and chained the piper in the cave beneath her. The storm was so bad that night that the water flooded the cave and the piper drowned. Isobel was so distraught by discovering his death that she flung herself from the window onto the rocks and died a savage and heartbreaking death. Legend has it that whenever a storm is brewing in Fraserburgh you can hear the sounds of bagpipes playing and many say that Isobel can be seen.
The Museum is a great starting point to learn about the history of this fascinating place, with tours available around the castle and wine tower provided by the excellent and knowledgeable team!