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Publication Account

Date 1997

Event ID 1019065

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


A castle was in existence in Aberdeen by 1264 at latest. The Exchequer Rolls for this year detail expenses incurred in its provisioning. Payment was also made for building work on the castle, although this was probably of the nature of repair or extension rather than the commencement of the construction of the castle since it already by this date housed a chapel. It is presumed that the fortification was placed on the later-named Castle Hill, although the primary source material does not state its exact site. It is possible that some form of castle had existed in Aberdeen from the first founding of the burgh, although Castle Hill was no more favoured a situation than St Katherine's Hill since neither offered a ready water supply. A highly speculative theory is that an earlier castle or fortification had been positioned on St Katherine's Hill. If this was indeed the case, the clustering of the first dwellings at the base of St Katherine's Hill, rather than Castle Hill, for protection, could partially explain the early development of the town in this area, rather than at the eastern end of Castlegate. Sometime during the early fourteenth century the castle appears to have been destroyed, most probably during the Wars of Independence. Lack of water would make the Castle Hill highly susceptible to successful siege. It was still standing in July 1308, however, after the supposed occasion of the razing of the castle to the ground by the burgesses of Aberdeen with their rallying cry of 'Bon Accord'. On 10 July Edward II instructed his admiral William le Betour to gather reinforcements from Hartlepool, Newcastle, Berwick on Tweed and other strongholds to assist in raising the siege of Aberdeen Castle. 3 Documentary evidence for the castle after this event has so far not come to light. The office of warden, however, remained hereditary in the family of Kennedy of Carmuc, who retained the title of Constable of Aberdeen until the end of the sixteenth century.

Archaeological investigations have so far produced no direct evidence of the castle, though excavations in Virginia Street and to the south of Castlegate (see area 9 & 11) have produced evidence of medieval deposits in its probable vicinity.

Information from ‘Historic Aberdeen: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1997).

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