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Brucklay Castle

Country House (19th Century), Tower House (16th Century)(Possible)

Site Name Brucklay Castle

Classification Country House (19th Century), Tower House (16th Century)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Brucklaw Castle; Brucklay Castle Policies

Canmore ID 20750

Site Number NJ95SW 15

NGR NJ 91092 50151

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NJ95SW 15.00 9109 5014

(NJ 9109 5014) Brucklay Castle (NAT).

OS 6" map, (1959).

NJ95SW 15.01 NJ 91080 49775 (Centred) Walled Garden

NJ95SW 15.02 NJ 91973 50800 East Lodge

NJ95SW 15.03 NJ 91267 50283 (Centred) Kennels

NJ95SW 15.04 NJ 91203 50272 (Centred) Stable Block

NJ95SW 15.05 NJ 90648 50062 (Centred) Bridge

See also:

NJ94NW 71 NJ 9120 4978 (Centred) Burial Ground, Obelisk

The date of the original castle is not known, but it was very plain, and similar to many late 17th century houses. A lofty central round tower, containing a staircase, was its principal feature. Considerable additions and alterations in 1765 and 1814 maintained the original style of the building, but elaborate reconstruction in 1849 has given it the appearance of an old Scottish castellated mansion.

J B Pratt 1870.

Brucklay Castle is now a roofless shell. Little can be recognised of the original structure, except for a rolled moulded arch, and the ruins of barrel vaulted cellars bounded on the N and E by very thick walls, the latter being probably those of the original tower-house.

Visited by OS (RL) 19 April 1968.

Architecture Notes


ARCHITECTS: James Matthews substantial additions 1849

John Smith addition

Partly demolished in 1953.

(Undated) information in NMRS: information from Demolitions catalogue held in RCAHMS library.

Site Management (15 March 1994)

Scots baronial house. Reconstruction of 17th century tower house, itself probably incorporating 16th century fabric, altered 1765 (including W front) and 1815. 3- and 4-storey house with tall centre tower and caphouse added to SW of earlier structure. Partial demolition 1953, but some E (entrance), N and W elevational detail and some interior walls remain. Harl, squared granite and coursed rubble. Some ashlar margins and architraves. Elaborate corbels, roll and ropework mouldings, and band courses. Chamfered arrises. Elevational details described complete to wallhead (2004).

The important early tower (possibly round) house was probably erected by James, 1st laird of Brucklay, circa 1600-25, although it has been suggested that this building incorporated an earlier 16th century structure based on evidence of the remains of a roll-moulded semicircular arch on a first floor internal wall. The 1600 date is based on visible evidence of windows, fireplaces and close garderobes and coincides with James Brucklay´s accession of 1598. Any earlier structure would have been attached to the estate of Fedderate whose laird granted Brucklay to his eldest son in 1490.

The early core (situated at the SW corner) would probably have been an L-plan aligned E-W with projecting SE wing with stair, and vaulted cellars. The sympathetic 1765 and 1815 alterations were followed by Thomas Mackenzie´s (Scotsman says John Matthews) 1849 reconstruction for Capt Alexander Dingwall-Fordyce. The completely altered character included raising the height of two rooms added in 1814 to three storeys, with ´the front broken by extending the entrance hall and projecting a porte-cochere. The old circular staircase was removed and a new one erected in a square tower carried up to a height of 75 feet and terminated by a sort of keep on the top´ (The Scotsman).

Further alterations, probably by James Matthews, were made in 1881 including the addition of harl which conceals much evidence of progressive builds. Matthews was apprenticed to Archibald Simpson (1790-1847) and was subsequently in partnership with Dr Marshall Mackenzie (1848-1933).

The 19th century Brucklay, reportedly a '100-roomed mansion´, exhibits significant stylistic similarities with Dr Mackenzie´s work on Ballindalloch Castle, Aberlour, Banffshire. An undated drawing at Aberdeen Art Gallery, signed by J Smith, shows a coffered dome with lantern over the entrance hall. John Smith designed the stable block in 1820 and bridge in 1830, prior to the extensive Mackenzie alterations. Brucklay Castle was requisitioned by the government for war and post war purposes. In 1953, The Scotsman reported that ´The roof of the castellated building is to be removed and the interior gutted to save taxes´. Brucklay at its height boasted some five acres of garden with ornamental lake and formal terraced gardens to the south side of the house. A granite obelisk in the grounds commemorates William Dingwall-Fordyce MP 1836-1875. (Historic Scotland)


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