Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

SCA Castle Tour To Angus - Feb 2002

Airlie Castle

Airlie Castle


Location - OS map 53 (NO 293-522)

4 miles north-east of Aylth on minor roads north of the A926, just east of the meeting of the River Isla and Melgam Water, 2.5 miles north of Mains of Airlie.

Brief History

The castle was built by the Ogilvies in 1432. Mary, Queen of Scots, visited the castle. Although the castle had withstood previous sieges, it was captured and sacked in 1640 when it was attacked by 4000 troops led by the Earl of Argyll.

James Ogilvie, 1st Earl of Airlie, had fled Scotland rather than sign the National Covenant. The ballad "The Bonnie House o' Airlie" tells how the pregnant wife of Ogilvie was turned out of doors (probably from Forter Castle) by Argyll after the castle had been taken, pillaged and partly demolished. Argyll himself is supposed to have taken a hand in the destruction with a hammer. Ogilvie joined forces with the Marquis of Montrose, and was captured at the defeat of Philiphaugh in 1645, although he later managed to escape. The 4th Earl fought in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and had to flee Scotland. He was pardoned in 1778, but the title was not recovered until 1826. The castle was never rebuilt, and in 1793 was replaced by a mansion. This house was restored in the 20th century, and is still occupied.. The apparition of a ram is said to circle the castle when one of the family is near death.

External Views

Once a fortress of great strength, it consisted of a 15th century keep and courtyard. A deep ditch cut off an angle between two rivers, beyond this the castle had a strong gatehouse and massive curtain wall. The gatehouse, which had a portcullis, was altered in the 16th century with the addition of a conically roofed caphouse. Little else of the old castle remains.

Cortachy Castle - Angus

Cortachy Castle - Angus


Location - OS map 54 (NO 398-597)

3.5 miles north of Kirriemuir on minor roads east of the B955, just west of the River South Esk, just east of Cortachy village at Cortachy Castle.

Brief History

An older castle here belonged to the Stewart Earls of Strathern in the 14th century. In 1473 it passed to the Ogilvie family, and then to the Earl of Airlie. He was a supporter of Charles I, and his castle of Airlie was destroyed by the Campbell Marquis of Argyll - whereupon the family moved to Cortachy. Charles II spent a night at Cortachy in 1650 in the "Kings Room". The following year the castle was sacked by Cromwell. The Ogilvies were forfeited for their part in the 1745 Jacobite Rising. They eventually recovered their titles in 1826. The house was extended by David Bryce in 1872, but fire gutted the Scottish baronial addition in 1883. The castle is still owned by the Ogilvies, although the Earl of Airlie now lives in the restored Airlie.

External Views

Cortachy consists of a much altered and extended 15th century courtyard castle. Three of the round corner towers survive, as do parts of the curtain wall built into later buildings. The maintower or keep has been engulfed in the extensions. There are many alterations inside and out.

Ballinshoe Castle

Ballinshoe Castle


Location - OS map 54 (NO 417-532)

2 miles south-east of Kirriemuir on minor roads east of the A94 or west of the A929, just east of Ballinshoe.

Brief History

It was a property of the Lindsay family, but passed to the Fletchers in the middle of the 17th Century.

External Views

Ballinshoe is a ruined 16th Century tower house of two storeys and an attic. One corner is crowned by a bartizan. The basement was not vaulted but the walls are pierced by shot-holes.

Melgund Castle

Melgund Castle


Location - OS map 54 (NO 546-564)

4.5 miles south-west of Brechin on minor roads and on foot south of the B9134. 1.5 miles east of Crosston, south of the Mains of Melgund.

Brief History

Melgund was built by Cardinal David Beaton, Archbishop of Saint Andrews, Chancellor of Scotland. It passed to the Gordon Marquis of Huntly in the 17th century, then to the Maules, then to the Murrays, later it passed to the Murray Kynmonds, then to the Elliot Earls of Minto and Viscounts Melgund. It has recently been restored. The ghost of Cardinal Beaton, murdered in St Andrews Castle by Protestant reformers, is said to haunt the castle.

External Views

Melgund Castle is an impressive and interesting building comprising of a 16th century L-plan tower house and Hall block. It consists of a main block of four storeys. Originally with a garret within a corbelled out parapet and wall-walk with open corner rounds. A stair -wing rises higher and was capped by a large watch chamber. The walls are pierced by small windows and many gun loops.

Internal Views

The entrance, in the stair wing, leads to a wide turnpike stair and to two vaulted basement cellars. The first floor and upper floors contained living and private quarters. The Hall block is of two storeys and an attic, it has a corbelled out parapet and a round tower, with shot holes at one corner. It had a vaulted basement which contained a kitchen with a large fireplace. There were other cellars in the vaulted basement, one of these was the wine cellar which had a private stair to the hall above. The 1st floor contained a magnificent Hall. A turnpike stair climbs to the upper floors beside the round tower. Another range of buildings is completely ruinous.


Details here are extracted from -
Nigel Tranter – The Fortified House in Scotland – Volume 4 – Aberdeen, Angus and Kincardineshire
Martin Coventry – The Castles of Scotland - 2nd and 3rd Editions
Mike Salter - The Castles of Grampian and Angus

Added: 28 Feb 2002 Updated: 18 Apr 2022
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