Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Standing Building Recording

Date March 2006 - September 2006

Event ID 550733

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NS 0155 3786 A systematic analytical survey and record of Brodick Castle was orchestrated during March to September 2006 in conjunction with Derek Alexander, NTS Archaeologist. This 90-room structure was the principal fortress and residence of the Earls of Arran, later Dukes of Hamilton, and Duke of Montrose in the Isle of Arran, partly medieval and early post-medieval, and partly a baronial country house of the 1840s and later. Survey involved complete exterior and internal room-by-room elevation drawings; the survey was controlled internally by an EDM framework and externally by a laser-scanned imagery compiled by Alistair Carty. Internal details such as carved fire surrounds and heavily moulded plaster ceilings were also laser-scanned at high resolution. A systematic feature-by-feature context record and photographic survey of the structure was accumulated and an analytical account of the structure written.

An extensive historical assessment of earlier historical material in the Hamilton family archives and elsewhere was undertaken by Dr Richard Oram. Later material (post-1700) was researched by Morag Cross and assessed in conjunction with Tom Addyman. Overall this exercise revealed a great wealth of documentation, individual discoveries including mention of a drawbridge, an inventory of armaments of 1680, a plan of part of the castle of 1700, and references to a variety of ancillary buildings within the enclosure walls and beyond.

The fabric analysis confirmed an extremely complex and convoluted history and evolution. The origin of the structure was considered to be mid to late 13th-century, perhaps c 1260-5 as suggested by the historical study. In contrast to the slightly earlier Lochranza Castle at the N end of the island, which displays many of the attributes of early stone castle building of the W seaboard, Brodick appears firmly associated with the mainland castle building tradition of the kingdom of Scotland, with details comparable to sites such as Bothwell, the secondary phase of works at Skipness, Loch Doon Castle, and others.

The early castle seems to have consisted of a rectangular wall of enclosure bounded to the N and NW at least by a rock-cut ditch. The S and E walls remain; the N wall survived into the mid 19th century. The enclosure wall was pierced by a simple principal entrance to the E that was flanked on its N side by a substantial round tower. The remains of the latter preserve a solitary fish-tail crosslet arrow loop (recorded by the RCAHMS in 1977); the N side of this tower was depicted in 1844, just before its removal. It is likely that the lower E part of the principal range of the castle was the site of the main accommodation and may still incorporate the remains of a principal hall over a basement level. This block was accessed at its NE corner by the existing substantial turnpike stair.

The first major addition was a massively constructed barbican built against the enclosure wall entrance. The remains of this feature are now substantially truncated to the E. The surviving details of the barbican, including deeply chamfered arch ribs, suggest that it too is of early date, perhaps of the later 13th or 14th century.

There was evidence for extensive physical damage to this earlier castle in a number of areas, particularly to the SE and E exterior. Evidently as a consequence of this damage, the pre-existing buildings saw major repair and the replacement of the exterior masonry skin in a number of areas. This work was associated with the provision of wide-mouthed gun loops. Much of the upper part of the castle was reconstructed at this stage, with the existing corbelled battlements, saddle and trough parapets, bartizans and crow-stepped garrets, all suggesting a mid 16th-century date. The ground floor vaults in the main block are likely to have been inserted at this stage. The substantially constructed pine roof of the principal block seems also to be of this period. The E end of the barbican was reduced and the structure rebuilt in the form of a gatehouse. The early round tower was reduced to two stories and its W side and new upper levels built on a rectangular plan - a new N-S aligned range that extended back behind the gatehouse and incorporated an additional pend behind the original entrance. Subsequent works included the addition of the existing 'Cromwellian battery' to the E end of the gatehouse. It seems that the vaulted interior of this structure may be secondary to the outer walling.

The principal block of the castle was doubled in length by an extension to the W; much of its roof structure is still remaining, but of much less substantial construction than the earlier one to the E. This work may or may not be associated with a Cromwellian occupation. The crow-stepped upper storey of the gatehouse may also have been added at this stage. Various minor secondary remodellings that were noted correlate well to repeated documentary references for repairs in the later 17th and 18th centuries. Substantial refurbishment occurred towards the end of the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th, at which stage the still water-filled relict moat was in-filled (1813).

Correspondence relating to the 1843-5 reconstruction of the castle by James Gillespie Graham for the Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale, his wife, Princess Marie of Baden, and the 10th Duke of Hamilton was identified and the progress of the construction programme, including a major collapse, charted.

A close parallel to the castellated exterior of Brodick was found in Graham's earlier recasting of the W wing of Taymouth Castle (c 1839), and in his subsequent central block of Ayton Castle, near Eyemouth (1846). His design at Taymouth may have been directly influenced by Pugin, who collaborated with him there, with details ultimately derived from drawings of an as yet unidentified chateau in Normandy.

Assessment was also made of later unbuilt schemes for the castle and immediate surroundings - by WA Nesfield (c 1852), William Burn (1856-60), WJ Green (1874-5) and Reginald Blomfield (1919), as well as a wealth of estate archive material relating to the later 19th and earlier 20th centuries.

Much of the survey recorded the existing baronial mansion, its well-preserved interiors, its original planning and function, and subsequent evolution. Very extensive repeated change was recorded in the service areas in particular, much of it relating to rapidly evolving heating technologies, water provision, cooking and laundry systems, sanitary developments, and so on. Oral testimony of Lady Jean Fforde, last member of the Montrose family to have lived in the castle before its acquisition by the NTS in 1956, was recorded on site.

Report lodged with NTS and SMR.

Sponsor: NTS.

T Addyman 2006

People and Organisations