Scottish Castles Photo Library
- Kildrummy Castle, Aberdeenshire

Graphics copyright © Scotavia Images

Unlike so many castles in the Scottish Borders and the Highlands, where wars, invasions and uprising took their toll of defensive buildings, many of the castles in Aberdeenshire remain as complete buildings and are still occupied. As you can see, Kildrummy is certainly not one of these since it was attacked repeatedly by various foes, rebuilt and sacked again.

The Early Castle
Located six miles west of the town of Alford in Aberdeenshire, Kildrummy was built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier fortification. At that time was one of the largest and most powerful castles in that part of Scotland. Even today, the outline of the high curtain walls and six round defensive towers can clearly be seen. The gatehouse had two towers and the nearby two-storey hall is now the best preserved portion of the castle.

Kildrummy was built by Gilbert de Moray, Bishop of Caithness, in the 13th century. It was a target for King Edward I of England when he marched into Scotland in 1296. Nigel Bruce, a younger brother of King Robert the Bruce recaptured it but English forces retook Kildrummy after a traitor set it on fire from inside. Nigel Bruce and the other defenders were executed - and so was the traitor.

Later in the War of Independence, Kildrummy was taken back from the English and restored - only to be besieged in 1335 by the Earl of Atholl, acting on behalf of the English King. But it was successfully defended by Bruce's sister (Dame Christian Bruce), in the absence of her husband, Sir Andrew Moray. He returned and not only relieved the castle, but also killed the Earl of Atholl at the Battle of Culbean.

Changing Hands
When the Earl of Mar fell out of favour, King David II seized Kildrummy in 1363 and it was in royal hands until 1368. The Wolf of Badenoch (Alexander Stewart, the fourth son of King Robert II) then acquired it in 1404 - by forcing Isabella Douglas, Countess of Mar, to marry him. On the death of the Wolf of Badenoch, Kildrummy should rightly have gone to the Sir Robert Erskine but King James I retained it. The Erskine claim was eventually recognised by Mary Queen of Scots in 1565 but it took until 1826 before a descendant got possession. In the intervening years, Kildrummy was occupied for a time by the Elphinstones and was captured from Royalist supporters by Cromwell in 1654. In 1690, Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, burnt the castle rather than allow it to be occupied by government troops. It was repaired and used by the last Earl of Mar in 1715 for planning the Jacobite Uprising that year. Later it was dismantled by government forces and the stones used as a quarry for the district.

Recent Years
A Colonel Ogston, who owned the estate between 1898 and 1931 repaired some of the stonework and in 1931 it was passed to the state. It is now in the grounds of Kildrummy Castle Hotel.

Note: The photos of Kildrummy Castle on this page are copyright Scotavia Images who provide a quality aerial photography service for Scotland. Prints from their large online gallery are available for purchase. If you have ancestors with a Scottish Highland origin, they can provide an aerial view of the area they came from!

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