Auchindoun Castle

Fort, Tower House

Site Name Auchindoun Castle

Classification Fort, Tower House

Alternative Name(s) Auchindown Castle

Canmore ID 16797

Site Number NJ33NW 1

NGR NJ 3488 3745

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Moray
  • Parish Mortlach
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Moray
  • Former County Banffshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ33NW 1 3488 3745.

(NJ 3488 3745) Auchindown Castle (NR)

(in ruins). Fosse (NR).

(Undated) OS map.

A 15th century L-plan tower, attributed to James Cochrane, Earl of Mar, or Thomas Cochran, favourite of James III. It stands inside a prehistoric hill-fort. All the authorities use the spelling 'Auchindoun'.

D MacGibbon and D Ross 1887; W D Simpson 1929; S Cruden 1960.

Auchindoun Castle, as described and planned by Cruden (S Cruden 1960), Simpson (W D Simpson 1929) and MacGibbon and Ross (D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887), scheduled for restoration, is situated within a bivallate Iron Age fort. The inner rampart of the fort, formed by ditch and outer bank, is mutilated by approach ramps to the castle on the W side, and by quarrying on the S side. The outer defences are formed by natural rocky slopes in the E and ditch and outer bank to the N and S; the rampart is destroyed by cultivation in the W.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (N K B) 24 January.

D MacGibbon and D Ross 1887; W D Simpson 1929; S Cruden 1960.

A clearance excavation was carried out in 1984 prior to further masonry consolidation. The most significant discovery was that of a barrel-vaulted stone-lined chamber, 2m long by 1.7m wide by 1.7m deep, cut into the bedrock beneath the floor of the main cellar.

J Wordsworth 1991.

(Location cited as NJ 3488 3745 and classified as Site of Regional Significance. Public monument with regular hours and entry fee). 15th century L-plan tower within a possible bivallate fort, although there is some disagreement whether this is an Iron Age fort or an earlier medieval castle; the inner rampart (formed by ditch and outer bank) is mutilated by approach-ramps to the castle on the W side and by quarrying on the E while the outer defences are formed by a natural rocky slope to the E with a ditch and outer bank to the N and S.

The castle is said to have been built by Thomas Cochrane (architect and favourite of James III from whom he received the earldom of Mar in 1479). Clearance [by Wordsworth] of the ground and first floor levels of the main tower revealed a vaulted chamber set below ground level. Gothic ribbed vault to hall; ground floor has elliptic barrel vaults; remains of enclosed courtyard wall.

Present castle built c. 1479; the Gordons received the lands in 1535.

[Air photographic imagery listed].

NMRS, MS/712/35, visited 6 June 1984.

Architecture Notes


National Library

Nattes Drawings, Vol. 3, Nos. 15-16 & 20. - 4 drawings.


Field Visit (23 July 1943)

This castle is a difficult and unsatisfactory subject as, in spite of the large amount of structure surviving, nearly all the decorative stonework which might have provided evidence of a date has been removed, while at the same time a lot of modern masonry has been introduced for reasons of security and this has gone far to obscure the ancient arrangements. It should be carefully planned when the Inventory is made, particularly the earth works which are very interesting and fairly well preserved.

Visited by RCAHMS (AG) 23 July 1943


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