Craigievar Castle

Tower House

Site Name Craigievar Castle

Classification Tower House

Alternative Name(s) Craigievar Castle Policies

Canmore ID 17471

Site Number NJ50NE 6

NGR NJ 56678 09486

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Leochel-cushnie
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Treasured Places - HLF funded (26 June 2006)

Craigievar Castle rises up to seven storeys in height and is distinguished by its elaborate upper storeys, which feature a continuous band of corbelling with conical-roofed turrets.

In 1610 the Mortimer family began the construction of Craigievar Castle. The building was incomplete when purchased in about 1625 by William Forbes, a merchant who had made his fortune trading in the Baltic.

Information from RCAHMS (SC) 26 June 2007

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Recording Your Heritage Online

Craigievar, 1610, I (John) Bell, re-roofed 1826, J Smith. The consummation of Scottish châteaux: perfect both in mass and detail. The ascent of its creamy, battered walls in a plain, stepped L-plan to an assemblage of corbel-table, corbie-steps, turrets and flats is utterly satisfying. In 1610 'Danzig Willie', William Forbes, who found wealth in the Baltic trade, bought the partially completed chateau from the Mortimers and, with the help of one of the Bells, master masons, completed it in the spirit of the Scots Renaissance. The perfection continues internally, with a great hall whose groined vault (medieval in inspiration) is plastered with a profusion of relief work and pendants of high fashion, similar to the designs in Glamis, Angus, and Muchalls, Kincardine. Baltic connections seen in Memel pine panelling in withdrawing room (Queen Margaret theme on ceiling). Long gallery on fifth floor and stair to balustraded flat, set high and exhilarating over all. A rare fragment of barmkin wall survives.

Taken from "Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie - An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Ian Shepherd, 2006. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NJ50NE 6.00 56678 09486

NJ50NE 6.01 56616 09543 Mains of Craigievar

NJ50NE 6.02 c. 566 095 coach house

NJ50NE 6.03 5661 0958 kennels

NJ50NE 6.04 5605 0946 dovecot

(NJ 5667 0948) Craigievar Castle (NR)

OS 1:10,000 map, 1979.

Craigievar Castle, fully described, illustrated and planned by the National Trust.

W D Simpson nd.

Craigievar Castle, as described in the National Trust pamphlet.

Visited by OS (AA) 26 September 1968.

A 1:20 scale plan and elevations were drawn of the barmkin wall at Craigievar Castle. Originals are with the National Trust for Scotland, copies in Grampian Regional Council SMR.

M K Greig 1988; I A G Shepherd 1986.

Excavations at Craigievar Castle revealed most of the lowest course of the 16th century E barmkin wall and a part of the S wall. Two stone drains of the same period were also uncovered. No evidence remained of any internal structures apart from a few postholes. Finds included 16th to 19th century pottery and glass fragments, pieces of clay pipes, two circular stone gaming pieces and four coins. The coins were: an English silver sixpence of Elizabeth I, dated 157? (1573-1577); a Scottish Billon hardhead (2d) of James VI, dated 1588; a Scottish copper penny of James VI, dated 1614 or 1623; a Scottish copper Turner (2d) of Charles II, dated 1663.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland.

M K Greig 1990b.

Begun by Mortimer and completed 1626 by William Forbes, timber merchant. A stepped L-plan tower-house of seven storeys with elaborate treatment of upper parts, 2-storey angle turrets, a re-entrant tower, balustraded flat roofs on towers and ogee-capped stair-turrets; it is harled and the W wall of the barmkin remains. Vaulted ground floor, 1st floor vaulted with fine plaster surface decoration (similar to Glamis and Muchalls) and original screens in passage. Re-roofed in 1826 when repairs executed by John Smith of Aberdeen included altering and raising towers and a new entrance door (subsequently restored).

Excvavation has revealed the basal course of the barmkin wall; all excavation records and small finds will be deposited with the NTS after publication.

(GRC/AAS ground and air photographs listed).

Information from Aberdeenshire Archaeological Service, June 1997.

NMRS, MS/712/19.

NJ 5660 0952. A watching brief was required during the installation of a water main to Craigievar Castle and the estate buildings. The work uncovered modern pottery and glass around the Mains Cottages, and a linear, charcoal-lined, ditch-like feature 4m E of the old coach building. The pipeline did not pass close by the castle and so no disturbance occurred in that area.

Sponsor: National Trust for Scotland

D Hind 1998.

NJ 566 094 The strengthening of the lightning protection at the castle involved the hand excavation, in April 2002, of two trenches c 70cm square by c 60cm deep. These revealed rubble, possibly from the destroyed barmkin wall, overlain by a 19th-century midden.

Between May and June 2002, a trench dug alongside the W wall of the castle, in order to test drainage problems, revealed the shallow nature of the castle foundations at this point.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: NTS

J C Murray 2002

Architecture Notes


OWNER: National Trust for Scotland.


Scotland's Magazine, Feb. 1958 - article and photographs

Edinburgh Tatler, December 1969 - article and photographs

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23241.



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