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Castle Of Lesmoir

Castle (Medieval), Moated Site (Medieval)(Possible), Ring (Gold), Sword

Site Name Castle Of Lesmoir

Classification Castle (Medieval), Moated Site (Medieval)(Possible), Ring (Gold), Sword

Alternative Name(s) Lesmoir Castle; Mains Of Lesmoir

Canmore ID 17180

Site Number NJ42NE 2

NGR NJ 47078 28063

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/17180

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Rhynie
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Recording Your Heritage Online

Castle of Lesmoir, from 13th century. Represented by circular earthwork of a medieval homestead moat, possibly of the

Frendraught family, holders of lands of Essie before the third quarter of the 13th century and fragments of a late medieval fortalice, all largely hidden by farmyard rubbish. However, the great Gordon fireplace from this latter strength was found recently in a cottage nearby and now graces the restored Terpersie (qv). Demolished by General David Leslie in 1647, when 27 royalist 'Highlanders' were hanged.

Taken from "Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie - An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Ian Shepherd, 2006. Published by the Rutland Press http://www.rias.org.uk

Archaeology Notes

NJ42NE 2 47078 28063

For fireplace reportedly removed to Blackmiddens farmstead (NJ 4257 2600), see NJ42NW 11.

(NJ 4705 2807) Castle of Lesmoir (NR) (Remains of).

Moat (NR) (Remains of).

(NJ 4703 2806) Sword found (NAT)

OS 6" map, Aberdeenshire, 2nd ed., (1902)

The origin of Lesmoir was probably in a Norman castle but the first proof of a stone castle here is not found until 1544. It has been asserted that the building was erected in 1508 but the date lacks confirmation. It was described in 1600 as having been extensively repaired or rebuilt. In 1647 it comprised a tower and walled courtyard enclosing outbuildings and was surrounded by a moat. Though it was ordered to be destroyed shortly afterwards, there was a house surviving here until 1759 when it was demolished for building-materials. At the site is a motte with a triangular bailey to the south. The interior of the bailey is level and raised about five feet above the surrounding marshland. It is revetted all round by a dry-stone wall of boulders which incorporates a part of the 16th century courtyard wall. There are remains of masonry on the motte. Worked stones of late 16th century date are preserved in a garden rockery of the nearby farm and figured fragments have been dispersed to Craig Castle, Helensburgh, and other houses.

The Ordnance Survey name Book (ONB, 1866) records a sword, ornamented with gold wire, and a massive gold ring as having been found hereabouts before 1866.

Name Book 1866; W D Simpson 1932.

Nothing remains of Castle of Lesmoir except a short stretch of earthen bank, and some large stones, which form no intelligible pattern. These occur in the NW sector of the bailey described by Simpson (1932), and partly on the amorphous remains of a large mound, presumably Simpson's motte, which is severely mutilated by quarrying and overgrown with trees. The raised bailey is retained by a dry-stone wall, incorporating at the SE corner a straight stretch of older masonry, 4.5m long and 2.5m high, constructed of large stones with rubble infilling, bonded with lime mortar. This is almost certainly a part of the 16th century courtyard wall. There are no definite traces of a moat, but a burn which curves around the W side of the bailey wall, most likely occupies its course.

An old sandstone plaque depicting the Gordon coat of arms and with a worn Latin inscription incorporating the words .. Per Lesmoir, is used as a lintel above the fireplace in the old farmhouse of Lachrie at NJ 5085 2841.

Revised at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 11 October 1967.

Motte. Location cited as NJ 471 282.

P A Yeoman 1988.

(Classification amended to castle and possible moated site). The site of the Castle of Lesmoir occupies a knoll in a low-lying position in the valley of the Burn of Essie immediately S of Mains of Lesmoir steading (NJ42NE 73). Except on the N, the knoll is enclosed by a drystone wall and it is flanked on both the E and W by small water-courses, that on the W apparently following the arcing course of a possible defensive ditch. The construction of a trackway and the insertion of two silage pits have heavily disturbed the interior of the enclosure, which measures about 78m from WNW to ESE by 53m internally. All that is visible of the castle is a single course of stonework, measuring at least 3.7m in length from E to W, which can be seen at the southern edge of a mound of spoil into which the western of the two silage pits has been sunk. A right-angled corner formed of masonry quoins, which can be seen close to and just within the SE arc of the enclosure's drystone wall, indicates that the present oval shape is a development of an earlier plan.

Visited by RCAHMS (IF, JRS), 8 May 1996.

Architecture Notes

EXTERNAL REFERENCE

Scottish Record Office

Dovecot:

Lessmoir. 'I have sent you a Plan of my Pigeon House which is somewhat off the common and very convenient for numbers. The cupola is painted white and there is a small pediment and Cornice above the Venetian window which is omitted in the Plan, also a small Pedestal betwixt the Cupola and Globe the expense of mine, which contains about eight hundred pigeon holes was about 25 pounds.'

Letter Al Gordon to James Watson of Saughton.

24 April 1758 GD150/3530/16

Activities

Field Visit (28 July 1943)

The foundations, which are all that remain, of this castle should be examined at a season when the herbage is not at full growth. The 'moat' marked on the 6-in OS map has been greatly interfered with by the building of a ha-ha.

Visited by RCAHMS (AG) 28 July 1943.

Field Visit (8 May 1996)

The site of the Castle of Lesmoir occupies a low-lying position in the valley of the Burn of Essie immediately S of the steading of Mains of Lesmoir. The site lies within an oval dry-walled enclosure flanked on both its SW and NE sides by small water-courses. Construction of a trackway and the insertion of two silage pits have heavily disturbed the interior of the enclosure. The only visible structural remains consist of a single course of stonework, measuring 3.7m long from E to W, in the S edge of the mound of spoil into which the western of the two pits has been sunk. A right-angled corner formed of masonry quoins, which can be seen towards the SE corner of the enclosure’s drystone wall, indicates that the present oval plan is a development of an earlier enclosure of different plan.

Visited by RCAHMS (JRS, IF), 8 May 1996.

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