Ruined Castles - Southern Scotland

Edzell Castle, Angus


An attractive ruined castle with a delightful walled garden


This is an attractive castle built from red sandstone which glows in the sunlight.

Edzell castle

The original castle was a motte and bailey 300m to the south west of the present castle. It was built to guard the mouth of Glenesk, a strategic pass leading north into the Highlands. It was replaced by a new, more comfortable tower house and courtyard in the early 16th century. Additions were made in the late 16thC when a north range with round corner turrets was added, but building work was never completed after Sir David Lindsay died heavily in debt. The north east section is incomplete rather than ruined. The need for a fortified residence had passed and it was designed as a comfortable home rather than a fortress. The village of Slateford had grown up around the castle to service it but it offended the Lindsay Lords and was moved a mile away to the present location at Edzell.

Decline began after the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. The Lindsays were Jacobites and after the failure of the Rebellion their lands were forfeited by the crown and sold to the York Buildings Company. The Company, a London Waterworks Company, bought many forfeited estates intending to strip them of their assets. The Company were declared bankrupt in 1732. The remaining contents of the castle, including the roofs, were removed and sold to pay the company's creditors. The avenue of beech trees, which linked the castle and the village, was felled and the property was again sold before eventually passing into the care of Historic Scotland.

Built of red sandstone, the external walls were originally harled. 

Edzell Castle

There is a splendid main entrance in the centre of the western range adjacent to the original tower house, which has decorative corbelling around the top and gun loops at the base.

Edzell Castle

The other side is the remains of the later 16thC range with a round tower at the corner.  Above the central doorway are three blank panels which would have held heraldic tablets. There are four large windows which would originally have been protected by iron grilles and gun loops along the base of the wall. On either side of the doorway are the remains of guard houses.

Inside is a large courtyard with the ruined and uncompleted remains of the north range, with part of an elaborately carved door frame.  The kitchens were on the ground floor. The collapsed arch of the fireplace is still laid out on the ground. Behind was the bread oven.

Edzell Castle

Above was the great hall, originally reached by a spiral staircase in the round corner tower. Now there is a modern wood staircase.

Edzell Castle

On the opposite side of the courtyard are the scant remains of other domestic rooms which may have included bakehouse and stables.

The entrance to the keep is on the north wall, protected by the later west range. Walls here are nearly seven feet thick. It is a simple round topped doorway with the remains of masons' marks. 

Edzell Castle

Inside a passageway gives access to the two vaulted basements with gun loops. One has a service stair to the first floor. The principal staircase to the upper floors goes off the end of the passageway.

The main hall was on the first floor. Marks in the wall mark the position of the minstrels' gallery and the timber screen which concealed a serving area accessed by the service stairs. On one wall is a huge stone fireplace.

Edzell Castle

The wooden ceiling was probably painted. There are good views down onto the gardens from the large windows on the east wall.

The stairs continue up to the second floor with two bedchambers, each with small fireplace and garderobe. The stairs continue up but come to a dead end with no views. There is no access to the parapet.

An archway leads from the courtyard into the walled gardens. Created in 1604, these are thought to be the finest Renaissance Gardens to survive in Scotland.

Edzell Castle


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