Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

Muchalls Castle - Aberdeenshire

Muchalls Castle - Kincardineshire
Muchalls Castle - Aberdeenshire

Muchalls Castle sits near the apex of a high coastal knoll overlooking the North Sea in historic Kincardineshire in northeast Scotland. Lower original courses date to the mid fourteenth century, with upper levels reconstructed in the early seventeenth century. Ornate plasterwork ceilings adorn the principal drawing rooms, and are considered among the three finest examples of extant ceiling plasterwork in Scotland. While some architectural sources classify Muchalls within the Scottish baronial mansion style, the structure is replete with medieval defencive elements, especially in the lower courses.

Muchalls Castle - with fine turrets
Muchalls Castle with its turrets

Noted architectural historian Nigel Tranter considers Muchalls Castle as one of the most interesting in northeast Scotland. The fundamental fourteenth century design is L shaped with a further extension at the west end; moreover, there is a sympathetic extension circa 1835 known as the Victorian Wing.

Muchalls Castle Aberdeenshire
Muchalls Castle has some of the best examples of 17th century ornate plasterwork ceiling

The hallmark plasterwork features heraldry of the Burnetts of Leys, who rebuilt the castle in 1624; there are also heraldry elements of relatives and allies of the Burnetts of Leys, along with classical and biblical iconography themes. The great hall fireplace is a massive walk in feature with elaborate plasterwork of King James arms and Egyptianesque carytid figures on the overmantel. The original servants staircases are still extant running from the medieval kitchen to the major drawing rooms on the first floor.

The castle is situated along the most significant route in medieval history known as the Causey Mounth, the only land passage along this portion of the Kincardineshire coast in the Early to High Middle Ages. Muchalls Castle entered Scottish national history when a seminal meeting took place in 1638 to plan a strategic advance to Aberdeen by Covenanters.

The castle itself is A Listed with Historic Scotland; moreover, there are three other Listed historic structures on the property: a stone stables, dovecot and gardener cottage. The property includes seven expansive lawns, numerous herbaceous gardens, a buried seventeenth century parterre garden, a subterranean stone crypt, three separate woodlands, a perennial stream and a number of agricultural fields.

The foregoing is original research of C.Michael Hogan PhD provided to the Scottish Castles Association

Added: 01 Oct 2012 Updated: 09 Apr 2019
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