Glenbuchat Castle

Kildrummy Travel Blog

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Kildrummy Castle

Glenbuchat Castle is a Z-plan castle built for John Gordon of Cairnburrow in 1590. In 1701 it was bought by a different branch of the Gordon family and became the home of another John Gordon who came to be known as 'Old Glenbucket' (an older spelling of Glenbuchat). He was a prominent supporter of the Jacobite cause and a hero of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745. Such was his infamy that he is said to have haunted the dreams of King George II. By 1738 the castle had been abandoned as the Gordon family home and was already partly unroofed when it was sold to the Duff Earl of Fife.

The castle consists of a rectangular central tower with two square towers at diagonally opposing corners. There are two stair turrets that rise from the first floor level and are unusually supported by flying arches. The main entrance was protected by a wooden door that could only be opened if the iron yett (gate) behind it was opened first. There were cellars and a kitchen on the ground floor and the laird's hall and accommodation above. The interior was remodelled, probably soon after 1701, when the laird's hall was divided into two rooms and the ceiling lowered in order to fit in another floor above.

Grampian Region. Off the A97 six miles west of Kildrummy.

Map Reference: NJ 397 149

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Kildrummy Castle Hotel Gardens, view from the castle

Kildrummy Castle is in a very ruinous state, but it was once an impressive fortress and residence. It was built in the 13th century for the Earls of Mar. King Edward I of England visited the castle twice during it's construction and it has been suggested that his master mason, James of St George, may have been responsible for some of the work. If this is so then by 1306 Edward did not view the castle so favourably. Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, was in open rebellion against the King of England. He sent his wife and daughter to Kildrummy to keep them safe from the English, but they were forced to flee further north when a force led by Edward, Prince of Wales, marched upon the castle. The siege finally ended following an act of treachery by the castle blacksmith who set fire to the building.

Glenbuchat Castle
The entire garrison were executed and Osbourne, the traitorous blacksmith, received his reward of gold, poured molten down his throat.

Lady Christian Bruce successfully defended the castle against an English force in 1335. Following her death the castle was held by Thomas, Earl of Mar. His disloyalty to King David II led the Scottish King to capture the castle and place it under royal control. Over the next century the castle passed in and out of royal possession before being granted to Alexander, first Lord Elphinstone, in 1507. The Elphinstones were resident in the castle until 1626 when it passed to the Erskines. The last of the family to live at the castle was John Erskine, Earl of Mar. He plotted a Jacobite Rising in support of the exiled Pretender to the throne, James Stuart. He was defeated and fled to France, leaving the abandoned castle to fall into ruin.

Centuries of stone robbers have reduced the castle to its foundations in many places, but it once had a tall curtain wall with six round towers at the corners and gate. The Snow Tower, built in the 13th century, had seven storeys of spacious vaulted chambers, and probably served as the main accommodation for the lord and his family. A later 16th century tower house was built by the Elphinstones to provide a more comfortable and modern residence.

Off the A97 west of Kildrummy, ten miles west of Alford.

Information: Please contact the property or visit their official website for the latest opening times and price of admission:

The castle has limited access for visitors using wheelchairs but it can be viewed from the access path. The grassed areas can be soft. The shop and ticket sales area are easily accessed in the car park.

  • There is a car park, about 1/2 mile away
  • Toilets are in the car park, adapted for wide entry
  • There is a very small shop by the car park
  • No dogs
  • No guided tours
  • No audio guides
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle Hotel Gardens, vi…
Kildrummy Castle Hotel Gardens, v…
Glenbuchat Castle
Glenbuchat Castle
photo by: highlandmist