Delgatie Castle

Delgatie Castle

Delgatie Castle Details

  • Access: Public Access
  • Condition: occ
  • First build century: 16th
  • Closest To: Turriff
  • Grid Ref: NJ754505
  • Last use century: 21st

Delgatie Castle is a curious tower house consisting of two tall rectangular towers set in an L-plan, which have been extended at a later date with buildings to each end. It is built on the top of a high bank overlooking a burn a short distance to the east of Turriff.

Delgatie seems to have belonged to the Comyn Earls of Buchan, and was therefore forfeited to Robert the Bruce, and was presumably one of the properties granted out by him to the Hay family, one of several to be granted former Buchan lands. It had been claimed by Henry Beaumont, an Englishman who claimed the Earldom in its entirety, but was unable to lay claim to the estates within Scotland itself since he was fighting against King Robert.

The two towers are of different dates, and it is likely that the older, western, tower dates to the late 14th or early 15th century. The vaulted basement is divided into two, and is now the site of the main entrance to the castle. Originally it appears likely that the castle would have been entered at first floor level, and that the later addition has hidden this entrance. The tower is also divided in two at first floor level, but the great hall on the second floor remains open, and the rooms above are only separated by studwork, leaving the original layout unknown.

The second tower is dated to 1579 by a heraldic panel, and is set at right angles to the first. Its erection meant that a wide spiral staircase needed to be cut into the wall of the earlier tower, although this may also be the location of an earlier mural staircase. The vaulted basement room of the new tower contains the “Laird’s Kitchen” – a small and pleasant cafe with good home cooking. Above is a further single room on each floor, and these contain good (albeit restored) examples of late 16th century painted ceilings.

Delgatie Castle was attacked by James VI in 1594, and battered by artillery, which led to the west wall needing to be rebuilt; shortly afterwards he was forfeited for fighting with the Earl of Huntly. The estates were returned to the family, but they continued to rebel, Sir William Hay supporting Montrose and being executed with him in 1650, and supporting the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745. Royal patience having run out, Delgatie was granted to the Garden family of Troup in 1762, who built the wings to either side of the two towers, and the chapel. It was eventually repurchased by the Hay family and restored, and is now the site of the Clan Hay Centre. It is open to the public, but times vary, so it is always worth checking the website.

Official Delgatie Castle website

HES Canmore database entry