Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle

Huntly Castle is a ruined castle in Huntly in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It was the ancestral home of the chief of Clan Gordon, Earl of Huntly.


Architecturally the "L plan" castle consists of a well-preserved five-story tower with an adjoining great hall and supporting buildings. Areas of the original ornate facade and interior stonework remain. A mound in the grounds of the castle is all that remains of an earlier 12th century motte.Originally named Strathbogie, the castle was granted to Sir Adam Gordon of Huntly in the 14th century. King Robert the Bruce was a guest of the castle in 1307 prior to his defeat of the Earl of Buchan.

It was fired in 1452 by the Earl of Moray then extensively rebuilt by the first Earl of Huntly. In 1449 the king was at war with the powerful Earls of Douglas. The Gordons stood on the king’s side and, with their men involved in the south of the country, the Earl of Moray, a relation and ally of the Douglases, took the opportunity to sack the Gordon lands, setting Huntly Castle ablaze. The Gordons returned and quickly destroyed their enemies. Although the castle was burned to the ground, a grander castle was built in its place. In 1496, the pretender to the English throne Perkin Warbeck was married to Catherine Gordon at Huntly Castle, an act witnessed by King James IV of Scotland.

Wings were added to the castle in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1640 it was occupied by the Sottish Covenantor army under Major-General Robert Monro (d. 1680). The parson of Rothiemay tells us how the house ‘was preserved from being rifled or defaced, except some emblems and imagerye, which looked somewhat popish and superstitious lycke; and therefore, by the industry of one captain James Wallace (one of Munro’s foote captaines) were hewd and brocke doune off the frontispiece of the house; but all the rest of the frontispiece containing Huntly’s scutcheon, etc, was left untouched, as it stands to this daye’.

Captured in October, 1644, the castle was briefly held by James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose against the Duke of Argyll. In 1647 it was gallantly defended against General David Leslie by Lord Charles Gordon, but its 'Irish' garrison was starved into surrender. Savage treatment was meted out, for the men were hanged and their officers beheaded. In December of the same year Huntly himself was captured and on his way to execution at Edinburgh was detained, by a refinement of cruelty, in his own mansion. His escort were shot against its walls. In 1650 Charles II visited briefly on his way to the Battle of Worcester, defeat and exile. The Civil War brought an end to the Gordon of Huntly family's long occupation of the castle.

In the early eighteenth century it was already in decay and providing material for predatory house builders in the village. In 1746, during the Jacobite Risings, it was occupied by British Government troops. Thereafter, it became a common quarry until a groundswell of antiquarian sentiment in the 19th Century came to the rescue of the noble pile.

Huntly Castle remained under the ownership of the Clan Gordon until 1923. Today, the remains of the castle are cared for by Historic Scotland.

External links

* [ More photographs of Huntly Castle]

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