Ancient map returned to Castle Fraser
A rare 17th Century map found hidden by a chimney on the Castle Fraser estate has been returned home to Aberdeenshire.
The incredible rare document, one of only three created by Dutch engraver Gerald Valck, was discovered in Drumnahoy House, then part of the castle estate, during the 1980s.
Paula Swan, property manager at Castle Fraser, said it was an “honour” to receive the map.
It was in very poor condition, the map was stuffed under floorboards next to a chimney breast for many years.
One theory is it was hidden away by Andrew, the 4th Lord Fraser, a Jacobite supporter, given it was marked with depictions of William of Orange and his wife Mary.
Following its discovery, the map underwent complex conservation work at the National Library of Scotland before going on display in the capital. The map is one of only three produced by Dutch engraver Gerald Valck.
Yesterday, it was piped back home to Castle Fraser, near Inverurie, where it will now go on public show. Paula Swan, National Trust for Scotland Property Manager at Castle Fraser, said: “We are honoured to welcome this amazing map back to the Castle Fraser estate. “It is a fascinating piece and of such historical significance. We are very grateful to the National Library of Scotland for giving us the opportunity to share and celebrate this fascinating story with visitors this summer.
“How the map came to Aberdeenshire is unclear. One theory is that it was owned by Andrew Fraser, the 4th Laird who was known to have Jacobite sympathies. The map shows William and Mary, so would have been controversial at the time, and may have been hidden away.
“We do not know how he would have paid for such an expensive item though, as the estate was in dire financial straits at that time.”
Current owner of Drumnahoy House, Robert Paterson, and his daughter who slept in the room where the map was discovered under floorboards by a chimney breast were at Castle Fraser to see the map returned. Mr Paterson said: “I am absolutely delighted that the restored chimney map is coming home to Aberdeenshire for display.
“The chance discovery of the map – hidden in my home for so many years – and its subsequent restoration make for an interesting story. “However, it is really the quality and detail of the map which takes your breath away. I see something new every time I see it, whether it is the intricate coastlines, lakes and rivers, or the finely drawn pictures of plants, animals, people, ships and cities. Looking at this map is a hugely rewarding experience and one that I will always treasure.”
The map will be on display at the historic castle, seat of Clan Fraser, throughout the summer. The team at the castle will be working with local schools and the community to uncover more of its fascinating story over the coming months. Castle Fraser features in the new tourism drive – On the Trail of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites – given its links to the Jacobite cause. Andrew, the 4th Laird – also sometimes referred to as Charles – went on the run after the 1715 rebellion. He died in 1716 when he fell over the cliffs at Pennan, near Peterhead, while trying to escape from Government troops.