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Cairnbulg Castle

Motte (Medieval)(Possible), Tower House (Medieval)

Site Name Cairnbulg Castle

Classification Motte (Medieval)(Possible), Tower House (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Cairnbulg Castle Policies; Philorth; Rathen

Canmore ID 21142

Site Number NK06SW 3

NGR NK 01686 63964

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NK06SW 3.00 01686 63964

(NK 0168 6396) Cairnbulg Castle (NR)

OS 6" map, (1959).

NK06SW 3.01 NK 0167 6392 Walled Garden

See also NK06SW 21.

Cairnbulg Castle is situated on a fairly prominent mound which probably was originally a motte subsequently cut down into a platform for the existing stone building. It was surrounded by a moat, still traceable on the E side, which in the middle of the last century still retained water.

Originally named Philorth, it belonged to the Comyns but was confiscated and given by Bruce to John Ross, son of Earl of Ross, in 1306. In 1615 it was renamed Cairnbulg. In 1896-7 the castle was heavily restored by Mr John Duthie and is now inhabited.

The castle consists of a large and strong tower house, perhaps mid 13th century to 15th century to the SE corner of which was later attached, in the 16th century, to a long house known as the "low work" having at its SE corner a round tower.

When restored the two halves were repaired and roofed and a new building, embodying the remnants of the old walls, was erected between them. The whole building is now harled.

W D Simpson 1951; HBD No.7

Cairnbulg Castle as described and planned; but there is no trace of a moat.

Visited by OS (RL) 15 January 1969.

This may be the site that is noted by Yeoman as a 'motte' at 'Rathen'. See also NK06SW 21.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 20 February 1992.

P A Yeoman 1988.

Air photographs: AAS/94/01/G2/10-12.

NMRS, MS/712/21.

Possible motte with moat; tower-house with 16th century longhouse added; restored 1896.

[Air photographic imagery listed].

NMRS, MS/712/36.

(Site of Regional Significance).

NMRS, MS/2059.

Architecture Notes


Cairnbulg Castle.

OWNER: Lord Saltoun

ARCHITECT: Jenkins and Marr, Aberdeen - restoration 1896-7.

(Undated) inforation in NMRS.


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