"To him who is familiar with history, Dunnottar speaks with an audible voice," wrote Beattie in Caledonia, "Every cave has a record, every turret has a tongue...". The name of the castle is derived from the Old Scot words Dun O Tir which means "Fort in the Highland Low Country."
The ancient Picts had a prehistoric fort on this rock, and in the fifth century St. Ninian built a church within its grounds. In the year 681, the Annals of Ulster mention a siege of the castle and in the year 900 King Donald II fell in battle against the Vikings at Dunnottar.
In the year 934, it is recorded that King Aethelstan of Wessex "wasted Scotland with a land army as far as Dunnottar." At the beginning of the 13th century, the castle figures as a scene of mystical events in the old French Romance of Fergus and in May of 1276 a parish church was again consecrated on the rock by the Bishop of St. Andrews.
The castle figured prominently in the Scottish struggle against English domination and was held by the English in 1297. The castle fell to the Scottish freedom hordes of Wallace, who burned the English alive when they took refuge inside the church. In 1336 the English again seized the castle, and King Edward III visited in July of that year. Shortly afterwards, the Scottish Regent, Sir Andrew Moray, retook the castle and burned it.
At the end of the 14th century, the castle was rebuilt by Sir William Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland and by 1531 a Privy Seal declared Dunnottar "is ane of the principall strenthis of our realme." In 1595, some of the victims of a huge witch hunting campaign in nearby Aberdeen were burned at the stake on Dunnottar.
In 1652 this castle was the only one in Royalist hands, and the crown, scepter and other Regalia of Scotland were kept there for safekeeping. The castle fell after eight months of siege to Oliver Cromwell's armies, but not before the Regalia and papers were taken out of the fortress under the petticoats of Anne Lindsay of Edzell. Because of Dunnottar's support for the Jacobite rebellion, the castle was dismantled in 1715. It stands on a rock promontory 160 feet above the North Sea and was used in the 1992 Mel Gibson film "Hamlet."
This photograph has won numerous awards in exhibitions in the United States, Scotland and Mexico. It has been out of print since 1996.