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Leslie Castle

Garden (Period Unassigned), Linear Feature (Period Unassigned), Moated Site (Medieval), Pit(S) (Period Unassigned), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Leslie Castle

Classification Garden (Period Unassigned), Linear Feature (Period Unassigned), Moated Site (Medieval), Pit(S) (Period Unassigned), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Castle Of Leslie

Canmore ID 17679

Site Number NJ52SE 1

NGR NJ 59964 24842

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Leslie (Gordon)
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Recording Your Heritage Online

Leslie, 1661. Built for William Forbes of Monymusk (whose father had acquired barony through marriage to widow of his debtor, the last of Leslies) on site of castle of Leslies of Leslie (the surrounding ditch of this earlier castle is visible from the air). Although in conventional L-plan, with the entrance in a square tower in the re-entrant, this was built for comfort and display. Three substantial storeys rise to turreted angles. Ruinous until 1981... 'might yet be saved by a determined restorer' (Tranter), it has been ambitiously restored by David Leslie of Leslie, 1981-9, and now stands as a white-harled surprise soaring up from the level plain. Marred by green slates (although fish-scale turrets do appear on Giles - problem of deciding to what date one is restoring) and vast fire stair, for which there was no evidence at all.

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

Archaeology Notes

NJ52SE 1 59964 24842

(NJ 5996 2483) Castle of Leslie (NR).

OS 6" map, (1959)

Leslie Castle is perhaps the latest example of a fortified house in Scotland. The ruins which now remain were built in 1661 by William Forbes who acquired the property from the widow of the last Leslie owner. The building is L-shaped with a large square stair tower in the angle, on one corner of which is incised FUNDED: JUN: 17: 1661. It was surrounded by a wall and had a draw-bridge and gatehouse, the latter built in 1664.

The moat which surrounds the present building is almost certainly a relic of the ancient fortalice of the Leslies, the first bearing the territorial title being Norman de Lesselyn who submitted to Eward I at Aberdeen in 1296, though the lands were granted to them circa 1171-99. The buildings were pulled down in 1661, according to Laing, although he adds that 'the ruins of the former buildings are conspicuous' at the foot of the gate-house.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; W D Simpson 1949.

Leslie Castle, an unroofed towerhouse with traces of a surrounding moat, generally as described by Simpson (1949). There is no trace of a gate-house or encircling wall.

Re-surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 12 September 1967.

Leslie Castle [NR]

(remains of) [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1973.

(Location cited as NJ 599 248). Leslie Castle (Leslie parish). 16th-17th century tower house built on a low platform 70m EW by 40m, enclosed by a ditch 15m wide, interrupted by a causeway to the S. The earth works almost certainly predate the existing castle. Recent levelling and landscaping apparent.

P Yeoman 1987.

This private house and garden have been restored.

(Newspaper references and additional bibliography cited).

NMRS, MS/712/53.

The probable moated site that preceded the listed Leslie Castle occupies a low-lying position on the floor of the valley of the Gadie Burn, some 250m NE of Leslie parish church (NJ52SE 17). Rectangular on plan, it has been reduced to a low platform measuring about 80m from NNE to SSW by 60m transversely. The enclosing ditch with counterscarp bank recorded (Simpson 1949, 136) in the mid-20th century is no longer visible. It is likely that this ditch was originally designed to be water-filled.

The later castle, begun in 1661 and recently restored, stands on the NW corner of the platform.

Visited by RCAHMS (PC), 22 July 1998.

W D Simpson 1949.

An assessment and evaluation of the area around the castle was undertaken in response to an application for the conversion and extension of a barn to form a dwelling house and garage at Leslie Castle. Although the service trenches associated with the barn conversion are in areas previously disturbed during the castle restoration in the early 1980's some of them clearly cross the line of the earlier moat and may reveal archaeological information. Given the proximity of the new garage to the N wall of the castle and the probability of little previous ground disturbance in this area, it is possible that traces of the moat or other archaeological features exist below the topsoil.

J C Murray July 2002

Architecture Notes

NJ52SE 1 59964 24842


Lib. Ant.

'Scottish Notes and Queries', January 1925 - plan and photograph.


Photographic Survey (1956)

Photographs of Leslie Castle, Aberdeenshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in 1956.


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