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Aboyne Castle

Castle (17th Century), Country House (Period Unassigned), Hospital (First World War), Motte (Medieval)

Site Name Aboyne Castle

Classification Castle (17th Century), Country House (Period Unassigned), Hospital (First World War), Motte (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Castle Of Aboyne; Aboyne Castle Policies; Aboyne Castle Auxiliary Hospital

Canmore ID 35305

Site Number NO59NW 5

NGR NO 52636 99558

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Aboyne And Glentanar
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Kincardine And Deeside
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NO59NW 5.00 52636 99558

NO59NW 5.01 52454 99409 Home Farm

NO59NW 5.02 52556 99371 Mains of Aboyne

NO59NW 5.03 5318 9901 East Mains

NO59NW 5.04 5204 9919 West Lodge

NO59NW 5.05 5306 9903 East Lodge

NO59NW 5.06 52945 99302 Icehouse

NO59NW 5.07 5204 9929 Garden House

NO59NW 5.08 5271 9923 Allach Bridge

NO59NW 5.09 5289 9875 South Lodge

NO59NW 5.10 52042 99307 Wee House

Aboyne Castle [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1976.

(NO 5263 9955). Aboyne Castle: A tall rambling multi-period mansion now falling into ruin, occupying almost the same site as a possible medieval peel and a horizontal motehill (Simpson 1949) castle of the Bissets, lords of Strathdee from before 1233. The site was protected by a wide, boggy loch formed by the Tarland Burn.

The present building has been so much altered and enlarged in the 18th and 19th centuries that its original plan cannot now be determined, but the NW portion is the oldest incorporating a five-storey circular tower corbelled to square and crowned by a classical balustrade. This is presumably part of the "house" capable of defence which existed in 1638 and was partially rebuilt in 1671. A later replica of this tower stands at the NE angle.

In 1242 the Thanage of Aboye lapsed to the Crown and the estate appears thereafter as a favourite royal residence. It played a locally important part in the Wars of Indpendence, and in 1307 Edward I sent instructions for its fortification. No further record exists until the mention of the 17th century "house".

Simpson was of the opinion that the late 13th century and 14th century references to the Castle of Aboyne actually referred to Coull Castle (NJ50SW 5) and that no medieval peel existed. He explained away references to it as misinterpretations.

Aboye Castle belongs to the Marquis of Huntly whose family have held the property since at least the early 15th century.

W D Simpson 1929; 1949; New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; N Tranter 1962-70; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1887-92; E Meldrum 1957.

Aboyne Castle is generally as descibed but now derelict. There is no visible evidence of a motte or peel.

Visited by OS (ISS) 12 July 1972.


Scottish Castle Survey 1988; N Bogdan and I B D Bryce 1991.

Architecture Notes

Architect: William Burn, 1835 - alterations and additions.

James Matthews, c.1860 - proposed alterations.

George Truefitt - additions.

Thomas MacKenzie - attribution,

George Bennett Mitchell - c.1900 Thomas Mawson c.1900 design for garden - not executed.


Plans: Copies of drawings and watercolour (1884) in possession of The Earl of Aboyne.

Copy of R.I.B.A Drawing Collection, William Burn, 1835.

Sale catalogue, 5th August 1921, (Messrs Davidson adn Garden, 12 Dee Street, Aberdeen), illustrated, missing at time of upgrade, 24.9.1999

I.G. Lindsay Collection, W/81.


National Archive of Scotland

Repair of the Old House of Aboyne.

Account of money distributed to masons, wrights, slaters and others. It amounts to #366.17.4. Discharges indicate that the various sums included payments for work at Charlestoun.

1686-87 GD 181/196.

Inspection of House of Aboyne and Office Houses.

Receipted account from William Reid, mason and John Watson, joiner, of Aberdeen.

Covering letter from William Lindsay.

1718 GD 181/212

The Old and New Mansion.

Receipted account for wright work by Andrew Moir includes the inspection of the Mansions and the Garden of Aboyne.

1719 GD 181/212

Repair of the roof of the House of Aboyne.

Receipted account from William Wallace, plumber in Aberdeen, for 85.14.3

1739 GD 181/188

Agreement between John Stewart in Milntoune of Whytehouse and William Break in Meikle Wragum, whereby William Break would deliver 3000 slates for the use of the Earl of Aboyne.

1696 GD 181/210

Building work at the House of Aboyne.

Receipted account from John Simpsone, slater for placing a partition between the kitchen and the milkhouse and preparing slates for 'new slating the Torrets' at Aboyne.

1732-33 GD 181/191 and

1734 GD 181/205 page 6.

The building of the West side of the close.

Incomplete note of the work to be done by Alexander Ross at Aboyne. He is to build the West side of the close, cosisting of a kitchen and bakehouse and other rooms conforming to a plan and directions to be given to him by Alexander Jaffray of Kingswells. (1677- )

N,d GD 181/212

Aboyne, 10th Marquess of Huntly

SCULPTOR: G H Smith of London 1867


Modification (1835)

Measured drawings showing alterations and additions to Aboyne Castle by William Burn 1835.

Photographic Survey (April 1961)

Photographic survey of Aboyne Castle and estate buildings by the Scottish National Buildings Record in April 1961.

Project (March 2013 - September 2013)

A project to characterise the quantity and quality of the Scottish resource of known surviving remains of the First World War. Carried out in partnership between Historic Scotland and RCAHMS.

Watching Brief (6 February 2019 - 7 February 2019)

An archaeological watching brief was undertaken between 6th and 7th February 2019 at Aboyne Castle, Aboyne, AB34 5JP. The watching brief revealed 10 features all of which were of 19th or 20th century origin. Map evidence shows feature 6 was constructed in the second half of the 19th century and features 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 were also of 19th century date. Features 4, 8, 9 and 10 are more likely of early 20th century origin.

Information from OASIS ID: camerona1-348115 (M Simon) 2019

Watching Brief (13 November 2019 - 15 November 2019)

NO 52631 99580 The watching brief, held in November 2019, prior to the construction of a garage, revealed the foundations of a 19th-century building. Evidence of a possible laundry copper base, lead water pipes and cast iron sewer pipe validate the owner’s belief that this building was used as a laundry.

Archive: NRHE

Funder: AJC

Moyra Simon – Cameron Archaeology

(Source: DES Vol 21)

OASIS ID: camerona1-383090 (M Simon) 2019


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