Banff, Castle Street, Banff Castle And Old Castle

Castle (medieval), House (medieval), Motte (medieval)

Site Name Banff, Castle Street, Banff Castle And Old Castle

Classification Castle (medieval), House (medieval), Motte (medieval)

Canmore ID 18455

Site Number NJ66SE 23

NGR NJ 68936 64201

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Banff
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Banff And Buchan
  • Former County Banffshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ66SE 23.00 68936 64201

NJ66SE 23.01 68872 64176 Gate-Lodges

NJ66SE 23.01 68866 64196 Enclosing Walls

(NJ 6893 6414) Castle on site of Castle (NR)

Fosse (NR)

OS 6" map, (1938)

A plain modern building now occupies the site of the old castle, but part of the old wall and ditch are still in a good state of preservation.

Name Book 1867.

Examination of the ruins leads to the conclusion that Banff castle was 12th century, probably erected in the reign of David I.

J Buie 1895.

It seems clear that Banff Castle had a motte.

E S Armitage 1912.

The north wall and parts of the east and west walls of the castle remain. The north wall is 144 feet long, the east 82 feet and the west 36 feet. The walls are 18ft high and 6 feet 4 inches thick and are formed of solid masonry. In front of the house is a well 33 feet deep, which was probably within the ancient courtyard. It is lined with dressed freestone, and holds water to a depth of 16 feet.

The part of the moat remaining forms two sides of a rectangle. The northern limb is 250 feet long, the eastern 156 feet, and the depth 20 feet. The width across the top is 44 feet and across the bottom 19 feet. Many antiquarians consider that it was a dry moat.

The present house was built in 1750. A part of the house, built by Archbishop Sharp's father was pulled down about 1816. The modern castle remains very much as it was built in 1750.

Mahood 1919.

(NJ 6882 6421) The remains of the castle are as described in Mahood (1919). The dry moat, in good preservation has a maximum depth of 3.4m on the NW side. The steep scarp on the north and east sides of the ditch has a maximum height of 5.4m at the NE angle. The well is at NJ 6892 6418. It is covered with a concrete slab and a dome-shaped structure, 2.4m in diameter and c.3.5m in height, has been built over it.

To the NW of the castle, beyond the moat, there is a large garden (NJ 6888 6427) surrounded by a high wall. The remains of the wall of the castle attain a height of 3.2m. The present house, built in 1750, is a plain, harled building of three storeys, it is now a community centre.

Revised at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (EGC) 10 October 1961.

The remains of Banff Castle are as described by Mahood (1919) and Cameron. According to a note about the castle (source unknown) which is framed and hung up in the community centre, a castle is mentioned in the 12th century, and Edward I stayed at a castle in Banff in 1296.

The rolled moulding on a round-arched sally port in the N curtain wall suggests a 16th century date for the existing remains. A shallow discontinuous depression running E-W across the lawn to the S of the community centre, almost certainly indicates the course of the moat with a possible central causeway.

The name 'Castle' as applied to the community centre is obsolete.

Visited by OS (NKB) 1 February 1968.

Identified as motte.

P A Yeoman 1988.

NJ (6893 6420) A watching brief and archaeological recording were carried out between April and August 2003 during the installation of new drains within the castle grounds and the reroofing of the East Pavilion building. Little remains of the late 12th/13th-century castle of enclosure, apart from sections of the substantial curtain walls and wide ditches and ramparts. A photographic survey of the internal elevation of the E wall of the East Pavilion, thought to be part of the medieval curtain wall, was undertaken. No attempt was made to remove the plasterwork or earlier pointing on the internal face, and so little architectural detail was visible. The repointing and consolidation of the top of this wall was also observed. The wall, at its surviving height, was found to be of small rubble construction with no cut stone or other stone of architectural significance evident.

Four of the five new soakaways and drains were located within the curtain walls but no archaeological features or finds were evident. The fifth ran from the SE corner of the East Pavilion, eastwards into the moat for 6.2m. No cut for the moat or ditch was observed, and it appears that the ground level was raised and landscaped at this point.

Archive to be deposited in the NMRS.

Sponsor: Banff Castle Community Association.

J C Murray 2003

Architecture Notes

NJ66SE 23.00 68936 64201

ARCHITECT: John Adam, 1750.


Scottish Record Office

Source list (typescript) of material on Art & Architecture - Seafield GD248 / R6, page 30.



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