Visit Cairngorms

History and Heritage of the Cairngorms National Park

People have lived and worked in the Cairngorms for thousands of years. At each step of the way they left something of themselves.
The archaeological record and Gaelic place names illuminate the history of the relationship between people and place in the Cairngorms. Place names give an insight into the culture, history and environment of the Park, which have all influenced the Gaelic names used for mountains, woodlands, lochs, rivers and settlements.
Traces of people who were here 7,000 years ago are, not surprisingly, few and far between. Amazingly, you can still see remains from prehistoric, Celtic and Pictish times.
From the culture of the Celts and the Picts the clan system was born, the way of life in the Cairngorms from the 10th to the 18th centuries. Though many of the castles lie in ruins you can still hear their stories being told.
The Clan way of life was dismantled after the Jacobite uprising. Barracks and roads, plantations, planned towns, new industries and empty glens; this all-changing event has clearly left its mark. One of the biggest changes in the Cairngorms came with the railways and the Victorians’ love of the Highlands. Tourism flourished and, keeping up with the Windsors, wealthy visitors built large houses and shooting lodges, changing the landscape once again.
 "You can just feel the history of the place oozing out of every nook and crannie! "

After the Uprising

The Clan way of life was dismantled after the Jacobite uprising. Barracks and roads, plantations, planned towns, new industries and empty glens; this all-changing event has clearly left its mark…

Ruthven Barracks

An infantry barracks built in 1719 following the Jacobite rising of 1715, with two ranges of quarters and a stable block. The Barracks were captured and burnt by Prince Charles Edward Stuart's army in 1746.

Corgarff Castle

A 16th century, four-storey tower house converted to a fort in 1748. The castle has been restored to appear as it would have done between 1748 and 1831, when it was bought by the Government and used as a military garrison.
Old Invercauld Bridge - Three miles east of Braemar, it was built in 1852 as the New Military Road from Blairgowrie to Fort George was developed.

Gairnshiel Bridge

This picturesque hump-backed bridge is about halfway along the old military road between the two garrisons of Braemar and Corgarff.

Bridge of A’an

Built in 1754, this was the main route over the Avon until age and traffic took its toll and it was replaced by a new bridge, just upstream, in 1991. The old bridge has been renovated, providing an attractive picnic site.

Glenlivet Distillery

The first licensed distillery in the Highlands took great advantage of the era of new industry. Visitor centre, exhibition and tours explore the history of smuggling whisky as well as the art of making, and tasting, it.

Dalwhinnie Distillery

High in the pass of Drumochter, the stills of Dalwhinnie have provided ‘one for the road’ for many a thirsty traveller for many a year. Tours and tasting sessions available from the visitor centre.

Royal Lochnagar Distillery

Queen Victoria and her family visited in their first week at Balmoral. Impressed with the fine Lochnagar whisky, the distillery received a Royal Warrant of Appointment. Find out more on tours and tasting sessions.

Grantown-on-Spey Museum

Tells the story of the 18th century planned town, including the founding of the town and its role in industry and tourism.

Tomintoul Museum

Exhibitions including reconstructions of a farmhouse kitchen and a smithy tell the story of life in Tomintoul, a planned village founded in 1776.

Explore Abernethy Centre

Find out about life in the forest village with interactive displays, puzzles and audio recordings.

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore

A unique insight into rural Highland life over the last 200 years at a living history museum. Recreations of a township, schoolhouse, farming activities and much more bring the Highlands of the past to life.

Heritage Centre, Newtonmore Riding Centre

A place covering the history of Highland Ponies - a breed indigenous to the park.
 

Tourism Takes Off

One of the biggest changes in the Cairngorms came with the railways and the Victorians’ love of the Highlands. Tourism flourished and, keeping up with the Windsors, wealthy visitors built large houses and shooting lodges, changing the landscape once again…

The Strathspey Steam Railway

The age of steam brought to life travelling between Aviemore and Broomhill (also known to some as Glenbogle station).

Ballater Station

Exhibitions and audio recordings relating to the connection between the railways and Queen Victoria’s visits to Balmoral.

Victorian Heritage Trail

A distinctive profile of Queen Victoria on brown-coloured tourist signs points the way for the Victorian Heritage Trail, leading you to some of the many sights she enjoyed during her visits to the area.

Balmoral Castle

Holiday home of the Queen and her family. A picturesque castle with towers and turrets and royal residence since 1852.

Mar Lodge

A magnificent sporting estate house seen from the road to Inverey. Organised events and tours advertised locally. Check in Braemar Tourist Information Centre for details.

Balmoral Estate

Tours and exhibitions at both the castle and the visitor centre at Loch Muick explore and explain the management of a sporting estate.

Crown Estate Office, Tomintoul

Displays and ranger walks explore modern estate management and the balance of farming, forestry and conservation.

Rothiemurchus

Landrover tours and ranger walks go behind the scenes to look at the management of this famous Highland estate.

Newtonmore

Pony Trekking was pioneered in Newtonmore in 1952 by the Ormiston Family in conjunction with the Scottish Sports Council and is still available today at Newtonmore Riding Centre where there is a Heritage Centre on site celebrating this fact and also covering the history of Highland Ponies. A breed indigenous to the park !  

  

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