There are over seventy castles in Angus, and we’ll explore a few of them in depth here. Scotland is a country with an immense history and tradition that has left it with plenty of ruins. Some of the most impressive ruins and castles in Scotland are located in the Angus region.
Castles in Angus
Cairnie Castle is a 16th Century tower house which has been reduced from three storeys to two by an 18th century addition, which is now used as farm offices by the Marquess of Douglas and March. Cairnie is located on the outskirts of the small community of Newbigging, or Cairnie, near the town of Stonehaven.
Much of this building was constructed by James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell in 1532. It remained in his family for many years, but then passed into the hands of the Sinclairs until passing to Sir George Douglas in 1631. Cairnie Castle was converted into farm offices in 1711 by John Douglas. For many years it was used as a cart shed and barn by a tenant farmer who lived outwith The Laird’s land. Finally, it was restored in the 1930s and 1940s, then abandoned again.
The castle and lands around it were then purchased from the Douglas Estate by a Mr. Donald Campbell, who also owns Castle Campbell (which we’ll discuss in more detail later). He restored Cairnie Castle to its former glory, and the castle is now used primarily as offices for his farm. It’s an excellent example of what a tower house would have looked like during its heyday. The Google map below shows you where Cairnie castle is located.
Birkhill Castle is a 16th Century tower house with a 16th Century courtyard wing attached by an 18th Century separate block. It was owned by the Douglas family until 1599, when they sold it to Robert Lumsden, a merchant in Edinburgh. He had the castle remodeled with crow-stepped gables and crow-stepped dormers.
After passing through several other owners, Birkhill Castle was purchased by Sir Archibald Douglas in 1624. The Castle remained in his family until 1747, when it passed to his grandson Robert Abercromby. He sold it to John Ramsay, who sold it again in 1748 to Lord Charles Hope.
Birkhill passed from the Hope family through several owners after that time, and today is still owned by someone connected to this line of the Hope family. It’s an L-plan tower house with a 16th Century courtyard wing attached by an 18th Century separate block. The house has original features dating to the Stewart era, such as the entrance doorway flanked by turrets and the tall lancet windows in the main block.
Brechin Castle is the oldest part of Brechin. It is situated on a cliff overlooking the North Sea. It was built in 1165 by David I of Scotland and has been rebuilt many times since, with its present form dating from 1827. The castle consists of a 19th-century castellated Gothic Revival mansion, with Victorian extensions including a tall tower and lighthouse. The lighthouse has had two different periods in operation: 1898 to 1926; and 1980 to 1987.
It remained the property of the Montgomerie family until 1718 when it passed to Colonel George Pringle for his military service in capturing Guadeloupe for Britain during the world wars against France . It remained in the Pringle family until 1957 when it was donated to the people of Brechin by Major Neil Pringle.
The castle has been used on numerous occasions as a filming location, including for the films “Trainspotting” and “Braveheart”, and television programmes including “Hamish Macbeth” and “The Crow Road”. It appeared as Greenleaf Castle in Disney’s 1994 film, The Lion King. It is open to visitors during the summer months.
The Colliston Castle is located in Dundee. The castle was built in the late 1700s and has been rebuilt a number of times, most recently in 1874. It is currently being used as residential accommodation for students enrolled at the University of Dundee.
The Colliston Castle is one of the oldest buildings on the university’s estate, which includes other student halls and a large research institute called Ninewells Hospital. It was originally built by James Weir during his tenure as Provost of Dundee College, and it occupies land that had belonged to his family for generations.
The original castle was built in 1780, and was designed in a gothic style. It was extended in 1871 when Sir Francis Moncrieff built the north west wing, as well as the turrets and bays. Since then, various renovations have taken place to restore it to its former glory.
The castle is linked to a famous legend. According to the story, a woman named Isabel de Colliston was living on the estate during the 1400s. As instructed by her husband, she transformed an old mill into a magnificent castle. It is said that she spent her time there creating wonderful tapestries depicting scenes from mythology and legend throughout history.
Edzell Castle is a castle in Angus, Scotland. It is situated near Edzell, on the northern slopes of Binny Hill overlooking the valley of the White Esk. It was originally built as a fortified tower house in 1532 by John Erskine, Earl of Mar for local Lord George Gordon (c.1465-1540), and has since been remodeled several times; most notably by William Adam between 1723 and 1724. It owes its present appearance to Adam, arguably Scotland’s most important architect of the first half of the 18th century. He made it a house in two storeys and three bays. It is now a category A listed building.
The castle was sold by the Earls of Mar in 1921, and then passed through various hands until 2000 when it was bought by Jean-Marc Fournier, a Swiss businessman. The castle was renovated by architect Andrew McClelland and was sold on to another owner who later restored the adjacent village hall to create an artisan food shop/cafe. In June 2011 the Castle was again put up for sale with an asking price of £2 million ($3 million).
Glamis Castle was originally designed by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1913. It is now owned by The Earl Of Strathmore and Kinghorne who are also known as The Duke Of Fife, HRH Princess Alexandra.
Glamis Castle (formerly Glammis Castle) is located near Forfar, Scotland and is known for its historic significance as well as its appearance in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula which was published in 1897. It’s one of the most famous castles in Scotland.
Glamis Castle was built on an area of about 50 acres and it has been owned by the Earls of Strathmore for over 700 years. The castle overlooks a moat which is about 1/3 of a mile wide and has a steep earth bank on either side. The total length of the castle is about 360 meters and it also has a large courtyard, battlements, secret passages hidden stairways, secret rooms, and stone vaulted cellars.
Kinnaird Castle is the headquarters of the Clan Grant Society and is also used for weddings, corporate events and conferences. It was also previously a children’s home (closed in 2000) but has since been renovated after a massive campaign by Clan Grant activists to save it from demolition. The castle grounds also contain the Kinnaird Centre, a visitor centre displaying Gaelic history artefacts.
The castle is reputedly haunted by several ghosts including that of a soldier who died falling from a turret during an army training exercise in the 18th century.
Kinnaird Castle is one of only two castles in Perthshire to have been a royal residence, the other being Aberdalgie Castle near Dunkeld.
Ballintore Castle is a castle on the Dargle River in County Louth, Ireland. It was constructed by Sir Walter de Ridlesford and Thomas Cusack in the early 15th century as part of an estate that extended from the river to the southern slope of Sliabh Aughty. The castle is built on a small rocky island that protrudes into the Dargle.
The name Ballintore means “town land by the weir” and it derives from Baile na Torc (townland of turf) and Baile Thoir (townland of weir).
It was a square building that was altered in 1867 to the design of John McNeill. The upper floor of the eastern tower contains some ogham stones inscribed in Latin with names such as Finnian, Foiritheach, and Indirce. Ogham inscriptions have been found on slabs built into the structure of the castle.
The property passed from Thomas Cusack to Walter St Lawrence, who then gave it to his younger brother Sir Christopher St Lawrence who was Bishop of Leighlin from 1455 to 1482. Cusack eventually regained the property along with Glascarrig Castle which had also been given to Christopher St Lawrence by Walter St Lawerence.
The Ballumbie Castle, a 14th-century tower house, was for many years the seat of the Munro of Ballumbie family. In 1491 Sir Alexander Munro of Foulis was granted permission to build a castle on his estate. This was done in revenge by King James IV against Alexander Forbes, Earl of March, who had sided with King Edward IV at the Battle of Sauchieburn and had been captured and imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. Sir John Forbes’ son was killed at Sauchieburn and his estates seized by the Crown. The castle is situated west of Kirriemuir on what is now an elevated plateau just south east from Craig Monzie Farm. The ruins of the castle were left to gradually disintegrate until they collapsed in the 19th century. In 1902 Colonel John Munro Foulis, 28th of Newmore had the ruins cleared away and the stonework reused for dykes, etc. The Ballumbie Castle is a Scheduled monument.
The original castle was built as a rectangular towerhouse some time in the 1490s by Alexander Munro of Foulis, to whom James IV granted a charter confirming him in his possession of Ballumbie Castle and his other formerly forfeited lands. It was at this time that Alexander’s father made over his estates to him.
If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like to read about: